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Advice:
Should I try to get custody because of a move?
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The grandmother of my children has full custody of them, and she is planning to move them 3 hours away from me. She is trying to keep this a secret by bribing my children not to tell me, but they did anyways. She knows I am pushing to have custody returned to me. How do I keep her in town with my kids, and should I ask to have custody returned now to keep her from leaving with them?
Posted on 04/06/10, 04:49 pm
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Advice:
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Reply #1 - 04/07/10  7:35am
" Do you have court-ordered visitation with your children? If you do, then you can get an emergency injunction against the move. You can request modified visitation, change of custody, whatever. If you do not have visitation spelled out in the order, you had better hurry up and file a motion with the court requesting change of custody, or at the very least, locking in guaranteed visitation with your children (summers, over the holidays, etc.)

I know from all the legal reading I've done that modifications to the existing orders will have to be filed in the same county where the original custody case was heard. Until the children reside in another state for 6 months, their residency stays in your county, so you want to file your motion before their grandmother can file for a change of venue to her new location for future hearings regarding the custody case.

How long have your children been living with their grandmother? "
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Reply #2 - 04/07/10  8:10am
" BuffyS has really given you quite a bit of good advise. As a legal professional, I can only add the following (please keep in mind that this is how things are in my jurisdiction [Florida]. Your jurisiction may be somewhat different):

1- In Florida, if you have court ordered visitation, there is statutory relief regarding notice of the move. The moving party must give the non-non-moving written notice of the move and seek their consent. If there is no consent, the non-moving party has 30 days to object (Fla. Stat. 61.13001). If the non-moving party objects, the objection is set for hearing and the relocation CANNOT take place until the court approves it. The relocation MUST show that it is being sought for the best interest of the children and not for the purpose of depriving visitation to the non-moving party. Further, it must show that the conditions for which the relocation is sought, do not exist in the children's current place of abode. In short, your children's grandmother must show good cause for the relocation. It could be that she is getting a job that pays her substantially more, or she has opportunities for the children that are not existent where they live now.

2- Before you file an Emergency Motion for Injunctive Relief, seeking the relocation to be stopped, apprise yourself of whether it's even necessary, given number 1 above.

3- Before a modification of the custody order is sought, again, in Florida, a substantial change of circumstances, that was not foreseen at the time the order was entered, and that is permantent in nature, must exist. An example of substantial is, a pay raise of 30K a year or more and things of the like. The mere fact that your children will be 3 hours away, is not enough.

4- Be prepared. If your children's grandmother is able to show that the relationship between you and your children will not be affected (notice I say the relationship), the relocation may be allowed. Once again, in Florida, frequency of visitation does not factor into the relationship between the children and the non-moving party, as visitation schedules can be modified to allow the same amount of visitation, or in the alternative, very similar amount of visitation.

5- The substantial change of circumstances attaches to ANY modification involving children. As such, if you plan to file to regain custody, you MUST show the court that your situation has substantially improved and you are fit to have custody. Slight changes in living conditions, or finances, or health issues, are not enough to rise to the standard of substantial.

6- SEEK LOCAL COUNSEL!!! I cannot stress that enough. Don't try to do this yourself. This MUST be approached from a legal stance, and emotions do more to hurt you in court than help you. Most judges are sticklers for the law, especially in family court. They have broad discretion in initial proceedings, but when it comes to modification, their discretion is severely limited and they MUST follow the law.

I hope it all works out well for the children. Keep an open mind. What you may think it's best for them, might not be what's best for them.

And trust me, I speak from personal experience.

Good luck!!! "
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Reply #3 - 04/07/10  2:31pm
" My children have been living with their grandmother for two years in July. My situation is unrecognizable from what is was when they went to live with her. Everything in my life says I am ready to take them back. The grandmother has sent me a text message threatening to move them from me. She is retired, and therefore, cannot be moving for a job. I am here, their dad is here and their schools are here. She is trying to hide this move from me, much less ask for my permission. I do have court ordered parenting time with them. I think she will be able to say that the move will not affect the amount of time I spend with them now, but it will prevent me from gaining more time with them. Will her trying to keep this information from me have any baring on the outcome? Will the judge say it is ok for her to move? "
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Reply #4 - 04/08/10  7:43am
" If you are financially and emotionally ready to take your kids back, then hire a lawyer and petition the courts to regain custody of your kids. Grandma is clearly scared of losing them, but they are YOUR children.

I assume you had legitimate reasons for giving custody to grandma at the time and that those reasons no longer apply. You have a close, loving relationship with your children, yes? You see them all the time, right? Most courts' first preference is to reunite children with their natural parents.

Ideally, also, the children's father will support your goal. If you and he petition the courts together, with a parenting plan in place (you have physical custody, he has specified visitation for example), grandma will have one hell of a time convincing the judge to let her keep the kids.

Get a lawyer, get a lawyer, get a lawyer. And do it asap. "
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Reply #5 - 04/09/10  8:08pm
" Thanks for the advice. I will get an attorney as soon as I can. My kids are counting on it. "

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