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Custodial mother wants to move far away; father fighting it

Your Question:
I am the mother of a 3 1/2 year old. Father is not a citizen and resided briefly with me after the birth of our child. I moved to the state he was in to try to make things work out. After continuous fighting, lack of him ever being home and feelings of being unsafe, I moved back to original state. Father recently moved to a neighboring state that is within 3-4 hours of residence (driving time). Father has seen child four times this year and is experiencing medical issues (organ problems) that has required a couple of surgeries and has been seeing a shrink for over six years on a weekly basis. Father started proceedings in January for visitation and paternity. Case keeps getting continued mostly due to father not providing proof of income. I submitted an intent to move due to my marriage to an officer in the Army returning from Iraq and stationed in Hawaii which is a substantial move. Father filed an ex parte motion and a 60 day continuance which the continuance was granted. Father has paid child support. What are the chances of him winning custody? Is it likely the court will block a move? Father offered a proposal to allow move if I grant him a fourth month block of his having visitation as well as numerous other times through the year until child is in school. Child has one sibling who is 18 who will be moving with me. Grandparents and aunt with two children currently reside in state that I will be moving from. Father's family resides in another country and he only has contact with mother and is estranged from father. I have a relationship with his step mother and his father.

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My Answer:

You haven't written anything that would warrant a custody change.

However, I think you're going to be disappointed in the court's ruling on the move-away, regardless of the outcome.

If the court allows the child to move with you (which is likely), the court will want to ensure that the father has enough contact with the child to nurture the paternal bond.

This means that while the father may not have a 4-month block of time (though anything's possible in court), the father probably will have several weeks with the child during the summer, time over the holiday seasons, and time over spring break.

Since you're moving to a location where airfare is cost-prohibitive from the mainland, you may find yourself also stuck paying the cost of transporting the child to/from the father.

Your 18 year old child is largely irrelevant to the situation. There's 15 year difference between the siblings, and the court will likely presume the older kid will be leaving the home shortly anyway.

If the father's mental and/or physical state is too poor to care for a child, that's relevant. But you'd need evidence to demonstrate that, if not his own admission of such.

If you want a guaranteed outcome, think creatively for a minute. If you move and eat the costs of airfare, add that up over the next 3 years (assuming child will have 3-4 roundtrips per year, plus an adult's ticket to travel with him). I assume you feel it's against the child's interest to spend several consecutive weeks with the father. Also consider that the court may impose conditions that you REALLY don't like, and then there's no do-over from there.

Now consider the cost of you moving the father to Hawaii and you paying for his first six months of rent in a reasonable one-bedroom apartment. That cost is probably less than all the airfare you may incur if you move and he doesn't. Also consider your peace of mind if father is in the same city and has frequent access (e.g., 2-3 times per week) for limited duration.

And FINALLY consider if you make such an offer, and he declines it, you can show the court you bent over backwards trying to make this work.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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