My Ex and my children have moved to another State! What can I do?

At the law office of Matthew Poole we have been fielding more and more “out of State” calls. These are contacts to us either by phone or by email about a multi State custody issue. The contact is more and more often initiated by a non-custodial parent who is now struggling to enforce his/her visitation after some serious geography has become involved. Either the Ex has moved to Mississippi, or away from Mississippi – with the children. No matter the reason for the move, or even which party moved, the schedule of “every other weekend, etc…” is now impossible. This new situation begs the obvious question: What can I do about this??

When divorced parents continue to live in the same area, the logistics of the exchange of children, the scheduling of ball games and dance recitals and everything else that goes with the day-to-day joys and “difficulties” of your kids is easily worked out. Although these parents might feel awkward and uncomfortable, it is just easier to get things done for the kids. After all – the “best interests of the children” is always the target, right? Mix a few hundred miles of highway between the houses and this delicate balance goes from a bit unpleasant and compromising to unworkable and unfair. Unfair to whom, you ask? This is unfair to everyone, especially the children. Keep in mind that the travel to and from house to house is endured by the kids, too. And the farther away from the non-custodial parent they move, the more difficult and tedious this issue becomes. A disruption of their plans and favorite activities is never a pleasant subject to broach, also. So keep these delicate subjects in mind when you are attempting to come up with a viable solution.

All of these different problems and headaches and obstacles to a simple issue: I just want to see my kids! Is there a solution? The short answer is YES – Always. When a schedule of visitation is no longer workable, and the parents cannot come to an agreement or a meeting of the minds, the Courts are available for a modification. Remember that your rights as a parent are NOT diminished by the distance between you and your children. In fact, the Constitution of the United States guarantees a parent’s rights, and the protection of those rights. These rights are defined as fundamental rights; that is, the most protected of all rights. See Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982). What this really means to you, the non-custodial parent, is that any decrease in your visitation should be viewed as more than simply “not good for me and my kids”…it is viewed as Unconstitutional!

The Mississippi Chancery Courts are referred to as the “super-guardians” of the children involved in cases that they handle. That is: the Chancellor must put the protection and best interests of the children as a paramount standard. And it is without debate courts hold that maximum involvement of both parents is consistent with the “best interests of the children” policy. With these tenets in mind, it stands to reason that a reduction in visitation because of the re-location of either parent would be inherently contrary to the best interest of the children. Protect your rights – cherish and protect your relationship with your children – and doing may very well mean that you have to go back to Court. Extended holiday periods, travel expenses, or even a true modification of custody are all issues that are on the table after a move of parent/children.

My next article will open yet another can of worms common to the subject of child custody/visitation: the introduction of the “Third adult”. I hope that you will log in to read that one, too.

Michael Louvier is a graduate of Mississippi College School of Law (1994). He has been married for 28 years (Tammy) and they have 2 children (Amy, 25 and Nick, 20).

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