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Old 08-24-2009, 12:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh is divorced and has 3 boys with his exwife. Ages are 16, 13, and 12. At first, we lived right by her, then we moved, but only a couple miles away, still in the same town. Then she moved, again, like a mile away, so we were always like 3 minutes away from each other. This facilitated easy, frequent visits, and the ability to be constantly involved. (for the record, dh has always paid every cent of child support on time, and exercised visitation liberally)
then, his ex met someone..hey, totally fair...after a bit, moved in with her new partner..okay..but moved a town away, about a 45 minute commute both ways. not as cool anymore. Dh works in a job where he HAS to work weekends, always has, this isn't anything new, so his visitation normally needs to be on weekdays..which, when we lived less than 5 minutes away, was fine, he'd zip over after school, they'd spend the evening here, etc. Now, he was making a 1.5 hour roundtrip (3 hours total driving) to see them for like 2.5 hours. And HE was doing ALL the transporting..seriously, in over 2 years shoe brought them maybe twice. Transportation was not addressed in the divorce decree, since the 2 miles between our houses was insignificant..once SHE moved away, we figured it would be a standard 50/50..but NO..at best it was 90/10, and that's being generous. So..that added many hours of driving, and the related costs, on us. Okay..whatever....she moves 3 more times, within the same town, always being within 45-60 minutes away.

Anyway..dh gos to get the boys yesterday (an extremely rare saturday off due to vacation time issues) and he gets a"hypothetical" question. What would dh do if he had the chance to have a wonderful job, his "dream job", and it would pay enough ot meet all his financial needs. ??

Dh - suspicious fellow, says "whats the catch to this "dream job?"

It's in St. Louis! (we, btw, are NOT in freaking st louis..it's several states and many hundreds of miles away from us.)

:

We have given up numerous opportunities, and deliberately made staying here, in this armpit, a priority, so that dh can have a frequent, constant, ongoing, daily relationship with his children. An active participant in their lives...2-3 times weekly visits, involvelment in school, activities, scouts, etc. A "real" parent, not just a visitor.

So...crap. He could also hear his ex-wifes partner on the phone to an ex, asking the same "hypothetical" question.

dh is trying to take the high road, and be reasonable, and if, in this economy, she really does have a chance to have a good job, etc, then it woudl probably be a good thing...but at the same time, he is of course extermely frustrated and upset at the thought of not seeing his boys for..probably months at a time, basically in the summer and maybe xmas break.

the other option would be..objecting, and fighting her on it, in order to either make her stay, or if she really wants to go, get custody changed to him so she can go, but the boys stay here. He's REALLy not liking the thought of a fight. but he's not liking the thought of not seeing his boys either. Plus, they have their yougner sibling here (my kids) and they have a set of older siblings here, who they are quite attached to.

and..it could all be for nothing...at this point, it's still.."hypothetical".

agh.
stress.

there's really no point.......just wanted to get it out...

On a side note, in the middle of writing this, I went ot the kitchen to get the kids a snack, and stepped on a shard of glass. That pretty much sums up my day.

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Old 08-24-2009, 05:14 AM
 
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That sucks And the shard of glass to top off all the stress and anxiety and anger- yuck. I hate when these very stressfull and very difficult situations fill our lives. I say this- good for you and your DH for being so involved and active in the kids lives! I hope you get some great advice here, and I hope you decide to take action soon.
If it was me in your shoes, I'd be on the phone with my lawer asap to make a change in custody or prevent her from taking the kids out of state. So sorry you are all in such a stressfull situation- blended/step families are so hard to naviagate Hang in there and be strong!

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Old 08-24-2009, 07:06 PM
 
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I could play the game.

I'd throw hypothetical question right back at her: "What would she do if your DH got a dream job and decided to move WITH the boys a few states away. Would she fight? Give up physical custody?"

I would also very gently and firmly let the other side know that there is no way in heck I'm ready to become a holiday only parent, and that if need be, I would contact a lawyer to see what my rights are.

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Old 08-24-2009, 10:35 PM
 
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Do they have joint legal custody? If they do, then he already has the power to disallow a move. If not, that makes it harder, but in my state, the status quo has lots of power and the parent who wants to change it usually has the bigger battle to fight.

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Old 08-25-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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I say the kids come first. You just can't get the time with them back. And dads are even more critical to teens (boys OR girls) than dads are to, say, toddlers. (And in saying that, I'm not downplaying their importance to toddlers.) He should tell his ex he would fight her for custody. Hopefully that's enough to get her not to go. But if she thinks the job is important enough to make her kids go so long without seeing one parent, let her put her money where her mouth is and have that parent be her.

BTW, legally he cannot keep her from going. Non-felons have a right to relocate wherever they want. He can only - possibly - keep the kids from going with her. Again, hopefully that would be enough to make her decide not to go, either.

I hope you don't have to deal with this. It's miserable. I'll be honest with you. Even when the ex is a nightmare (and it doesn't sound like she is, in your case), there is no up side to having her several states away, with custody.

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Old 08-25-2009, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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BTW, legally he cannot keep her from going. Non-felons have a right to relocate wherever they want. He can only - possibly - keep the kids from going with her. Again, hopefully that would be enough to make her decide not to go, either.

.
Actuaslly, the divorce agreement prohibits her from moving more than 100 miles away with the kids without permission. So ya..while he can't keep HER from going, he can put up a fight to keep the kids here...but he doesn't want that kind of drama. We know we;'d have a pretty strong leg to stand on, legally..he has been a constantly involved parent, jiont legal with liberal physical custody, and he is now remarried (to me, duh, lol) and has a stable house and job. His ex has none of that. And...it isn't *HER* who has the hypothetical "dream job" offer even, we don't *think*...we're pretty sure it's her new significant other.
blah.

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Old 08-25-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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The fact that you and dh have already "given up" a lot for this custody arrangement provides the framework for your response. You don't have to assume custody if you fight her departure...she could very well be denied permission to leave. She could also very well receive permission to leave...and you'd be out a lot of money and emotional stress. Depends on your state's laws and your judge and your lawyers...you get the picture. But my knee-jerk reaction would be to NOT go along with the *hypothetical* idea.

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Old 08-26-2009, 09:38 PM
 
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Actuaslly, the divorce agreement prohibits her from moving more than 100 miles away with the kids without permission. So ya..while he can't keep HER from going, he can put up a fight to keep the kids here...but he doesn't want that kind of drama. We know we;'d have a pretty strong leg to stand on, legally..he has been a constantly involved parent, jiont legal with liberal physical custody, and he is now remarried (to me, duh, lol) and has a stable house and job. His ex has none of that. And...it isn't *HER* who has the hypothetical "dream job" offer even, we don't *think*...we're pretty sure it's her new significant other.
blah.
I 'm not sure if I'm misreading, and if I am, then disregard it, okay?

Okay.

Most battles are not worth the fight, but actually spending the time and being a consistent presence in your child's life is worth very much of going through drama. I hope the fact that it is an unpleasant experience would not actually keep your husband from standing up for the time with his children, yk?

If you are seriously concerned about his ex moving several states away, I would do two things:

#1. Contact the lawyer.
#2. Make sure that mom understands that you two are very concerned, and will not give up without a fight.

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Old 08-26-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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spending the time and being a consistent presence in your child's life is worth very much of going through drama. I hope the fact that it is an unpleasant experience would not actually keep your husband from standing up for the time with his children, yk?
I agree, this is one thing that's worth the fight.

Not to be petulant, but make sure you verify whose permission she needs, to move (with the kids). I get the sense, from your confidence, that it is your husband's (or that you may think it is his permission she needs). That would be unusual. Getting the court's permission is another thing entirely. Although the court will require her to give advance notice so your husband has time to object to the kids moving (the amount of time was increased in the summer of 2006), there is still a basic presumption that relocation alone is not sufficient reason to change custody, especially if Mom has a history of cooperating about contact between Dad and the kids. This is more evident if you read the case law than just the wording of the law itself. Some potentially sufficient reasons to change custody to the non-relocating parent are the kids' ties to their current community (aside from just the custodial parent): involvement in extra-curricular activities, clubs, etc. at their current schools, involvement in sports and church, closeness to extended family or half-siblings... You will have to address the fact that since the kids have already moved out of the community you live in, if their mom moves to St. Louis, even if they move in with you guys they'll have to switch schools, etc.

I'm not saying it's an insurmountable argument for you to make. I am loudly saying don't let yourself think it will be at all easy. Prepare.

My husband's case is the worst-case scenario, but it did happen in Indiana - and recently. He had joint legal custody and close to 50% visitation. He was involved at school, scouts, church, play-dates, etc. His ex had an extensive history of violating their custodial orders, telling their son's teachers to call police if my husband went to the school, making fraudulent Missing Person reports about their son during my husband's parenting time, etc. The court had issued a permanent (not just the usual temporary) injunction, threatening her with a month in jail if she did anything more. Her response? She took their son and moved 2,500 miles away with 10 days' notice. Their custodial evaluator advised giving sole custody to my husband. If ever there were a dad who would get custody, it'd be him, right? No. He didn't get custody until after he spent a year and a half flying across the country every month to see his kid and being denied access. Even then, the original judge did. not. care. It was the third judge who finally gave him custody.

I have to hope that is not the usual state of family law here, but be aware that it happens and get all your ducks in a row early.

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Old 08-27-2009, 10:12 AM
 
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Do the kids know about this? Where do they want to be? They are older so a judge will take their opinion seriously.

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Old 08-27-2009, 12:31 PM
 
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Six years until the youngest turns 18, right?. It's a short time to an adult, a very long- and critical- time for a child.

If you're asking what YOU should do, you should listen to him and keep venting to us and not say a word to the boys. If you're asking what HE should do, he should make his concerns very clear and make an initial contact with a lawyer now, so that he can move very swiftly with court action if she chooses to push it.

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Old 08-27-2009, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks guys.
Just to clarify..it's not that he simply doesn't want to deal with drama, but he also feels like it would be as detrimental to them to not have their mom for months at a time, as it would be for them to not see him for months at a time. They need both parents available, period. and frankly, they are used to their mom and love her very much. If they were asked, they would absolutely pick their mom to stay with. no question. We wouldnt even be in the running. The best case scenario we can hope for is that she decides not to go, so that the issue never becomes real.

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Old 08-28-2009, 09:38 PM
 
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I think you have already given up and don't see it as something worth fighting for.

I hope that this will come out to be an empty threat.

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Old 08-28-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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I think you have already given up and don't see it as something worth fighting for.

I hope that this will come out to be an empty threat.
I think it seems like she is being realistic in that a custody battle to keep the kids with their dad might not actually be in the kids best interest, as they are used to/prefer to be with their mom at this point in their lives. Don't get me wrong, I am all for dad's having equal rights and have helped my dp fight, and fight hard, to get them. I'm sure her dh has considered his options and will be devastated if his kids move far away, but I think it is great that he can put his feelings aside and consider what would be best for his kids.

FWIW, I too hope this turns out to be an empty threat-it sounds like their mom is not as concerned about what is best for her kids as the OPs dh and is focusing on herself instead

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Old 08-29-2009, 03:11 AM
 
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Wow. No, in his shoes I'd certainly signal clearly that the answer would be "no", and that there would be a battle to the death if necessary, though of course we'd hope it wouldn't come to that. If any of that "are you really going to make me choose between my future and my kids" nonsense started, I'd say future conversations about moving the kids away could go through lawyers. And give her to understand that slipping away would be a serious mistake.

I wouldn't bother hypothesizing about who's got the job, her or the boyfriend. If it comes down to a court fight that might be salient, but until then, it doesn't matter.
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Old 08-29-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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I'm sure her dh has considered his options and will be devastated if his kids move far away, but I think it is great that he can put his feelings aside and consider what would be best for his kids. (
greenemami, in this case I think what would be best for the kids would be to fight. This isn't a question of fighting for two days v. three, it's about whether or not he can really be in their lives. I really understand wanting to keep the peace, but there are points where you have to be willing to stand up for the kids' welfare. They may want to stay with her, but I doubt very much they want to lose their dad.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:47 AM
 
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I think it seems like she is being realistic in that a custody battle to keep the kids with their dad might not actually be in the kids best interest, as they are used to/prefer to be with their mom at this point in their lives. Don't get me wrong, I am all for dad's having equal rights and have helped my dp fight, and fight hard, to get them. I'm sure her dh has considered his options and will be devastated if his kids move far away, but I think it is great that he can put his feelings aside and consider what would be best for his kids.

FWIW, I too hope this turns out to be an empty threat-it sounds like their mom is not as concerned about what is best for her kids as the OPs dh and is focusing on herself instead
I think best interest of the kids means two parents within a manageable distance. And one of the ways to prevent the move is to make clear that I WANT to be a part of their lives enough to fight for that right. I don't think it's "mom vs. dad" question here, I think it's a "parent" question.

I'm not sure if OP or her husband realize how much they are going to miss if the children were to move. From 12 to 16, you know how much DP and I have done with DSD? It's driving her home after 7 years of braces and headgear are done, it's parent teacher conferences when she almost fails her freshman year, it's the first boyfriend, it's the first date, it's driving home after the first kiss, it's teaching them to drive a manual, it's a walk in the rain after the first relationship is over because he was too controlling and she finally stood up for herself (as you hoped she would for almost 4 months), it's going to the movies together, it's weekly trips to the coffee house, and picking out halloween costumes, it's giving a shoulder to cry on and a sound advice when the teacher is not fair and a friend turns out to be not such a good friend; it's life, it's memories. And we still have two more years to go before high school is over! I can only imagine what else is there to come!

anyway... the point is, it's a tragedy when one parent is denied rights to be in the life of their child, but to give it up by choice just because the other side wants you to? That's something very difficult for me to understand, yk?

I do think that such moves are easier to discuss hypothetically than to implement in life, so all of this could be just a stressful discussion rather than a real danger.

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Old 08-29-2009, 12:32 PM
 
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OP, it sounds like you and your husband have bent over backwards to accommodate the mom, and while this must have been a pain for you, I think the boys, looking back on that, will be so grateful that there wasn't a battle or animosity towards their mom. I think you sound more than reasonable! Now, to keep things that way without putting several hundred miles between yourselves and the boys...is the tricky part. How was the mom talking about this dream job...in a threatening way, or just in a hopeful way that your husband would be supportive of the move? Is she usually one to be difficult about stuff, or is she just seeing what the options are? And after all you guys have done, I certainly wouldn't suggest uprooting your lives at the mom's whim, but since you say where you live now is an armpit, is it possible that a move would be beneficial to you guys, too? Just throwing that out as a thought. Maybe as you say, it won't even be an issue and she'll let it go.
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:16 PM
 
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I'm not saying that they should not make it clear that they do NOT want her to move with the kids, I'm saying that if it comes down to a court battle and their mom is moving with or without them, that is might not be best for the kids to get stuck in the middle of that. Obviously, they should not just roll over and tell the mom to go ahead with their blessing, and I certainly hope that the kids mom wouldn't be willing to move without her kids and would agree to stay put. It is a tough situation, and PP is right-what is best for the kids is to have BOTH parents at an accessible distance.

This is something that has been on my mind lately for some reason-dsd's mom is not planning on moving (as far as I know!) thank goodness, but it is such a tough situation. I think our initial urge is to say, well, we will fight you for custody, but it is really not any better for a kid to be away from his/her mom for most of the year that it is for them to be away from dad. Kind of an unwinnable situation that I hope we (and the OP) never have to deal with in reality. What is frustrating is that the parent who moves would be making the choice to be away from their kids, but that doesn't necessarily make it better for the kids, KWIM? Actually, probably makes it worse. Anyway, this was rambly-

My point was that yes, make it clear that you are not going to support her leaving and will protest the move in court if necessary, but I do think it is good that the OPs dh is willing to put his kids interests before his own.

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Old 08-29-2009, 02:34 PM
 
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Jess, I'm not suggesting a change in custody- that's really a last resort. If their mum refuses to move without the boys, though, considering it sounds like a relatively new relationship and it is (and I'm reiterating here) a really fairly short time until they're done with schooling and can arrange their own relationships with their dad- then it's an option. A better one would be for the stepdad to hold off on his relocation for a few more years, or for their mum to stay behind and have a long distance relationship. There's no reason why the relationship between your s/sons and their dad should be the only one to be flexible, you know?

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Old 08-29-2009, 05:06 PM
 
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"They need both parents available, period. and frankly, they are used to their mom and love her very much. If they were asked, they would absolutely pick their mom to stay with. no question. We wouldnt even be in the running."

I think you've answered your own question. If you cannot legally prevent the mom from moving, and you know that the kids would prefer to stay with mom, for godsake do not try to take them away from her. The wounds from that will never heal. Make some deal for summers and Christmas and make the most of that time.

So I guess my opinion is - make sure what your dh's legal rights actually are, and if it turns out that contesting physical custody is the only way to keep them in the state, then let them go. But if it's actually the case that your dh can quash the move simply by objecting to it, then he'd better deal with the "drama" and do so. This a is dumb idea, anyhow. Who is to say that mom's boyfriend will even be in the picture in a couple of years? If you can forestall the move without putting the kids under threat of being taken away from their mother, by all means do so.
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