Accept relocation,focus on visitation


            Posted on  Aug 2,2009   

            Accept Ex's relocation, focus on visitation

Q.    I've been divorced for three years. My wife and I have joint legal custody. She has primary physical custody. I have exercised all my visitation and bought a house near my ex-wife so the kids can literally walk back and forth.

Our separation agreement, approved by the court, says neither of us will try to move the kids out of Massachusetts without the consent of the other.

Now my ex-wife wants to move with the kids to North Dakota, where she's from, to marry a man she met there last year while visiting her folks.What are her chances of getting the court's O.K.?

I.L., Sutton

A. Per chapter 208, Section 30 of the Massachusetts General Laws, removal of children is not permitted without the consent of both parents "unless the court upon cause shown otherwise orders."�

Our case law has held the statutory provision trumps the language in your agreement and that the court must find the move is in the best interests of the children.

The judge must consider whether there is a real advantage for the child as a result of the move, including looking at whether the child's quality of life would be improved, possible adverse effects on the child from decreased contact with you, your interests, and the absence of your ex-wife's motive to deprive you of contact. This last point really means the court will look to see if your ex has what lawyers call "good and sincere reasons"� for the move.

Going to live with a new spouse is the quintessential reason for allowing the move.
My advice is to not spend money fighting the move. Instead work out a new visitation schedule so the kids can spend the entire summer and all long vacations here, with air fare paid by your ex. Also ask for a reduction in your child support so you can more easily pay the air fare, car, motel and food during your visits to the kids in North Dakota.