We just achieved a big win for a client who wanted to get court approval to relocate to Austin, Texas with her daughter from Chicago. I wanted to talk about the case and more importantly really EMPHASIZE the #1 key to winning both child custody and relocation cases.
I surely think of contested custody and contested relocation matters as the biggest pure win/lose cases that we are involved with on a regular basis because there really is a stark difference between the winner and the loser in these matters vs. say child support or even ‘normal’ parenting time stuff where it’s pretty easy to find some compromise solution for each parent that can be true win-win situations.
But, if mom wants to relocate your son to Phoenix, Arizona, there’s not really an easy ‘middle ground.’ Mom either wins that case and all of a sudden dad’s parenting time is greatly limited or dad wins and perhaps now he’s the majority time parent or mom doesn’t get to take that dream job out in Phoenix.
Or, with regards to custody or “significant decision-making responsibilities” you’re looking at a stark difference between being the 80% parent truly guiding a child’s life vs. being the 20% parent who gets frozen-out on many things and has a sadly, very limited relationship with her/his kids.
What’s the SECRET to winning custody, child relocation cases?
From a lot of experience including my recent win on the relocation to Austin, Texas case here’s the “secret” and I’ll actually quote the language in the law (it’s really not a secret at all):
“…the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child (750 ILCS 5/602.5);”
It’s simple, but, it’s not easy to do. Sort of like losing weight. The big challenge is that you’re in court and likely not on the most pleasant of terms with a spouse that you’re divorcing or former spouse/partner and yet despite the negative stuff, to be successful in your custody/relocation case you MUST rise above your feelings of animosity and FACILITATE the other parent’s relationship with the child(ren). Evidence of a parent FACILITATING is what wins these cases.
There was some real telling and totally on-point testimony that exemplifies exactly how a parent must facilitate/encourage parenting time from this recent Austin, Texas case that proves my point. The mother and my client who wanted to relocate to Austin with the parties’ child was asked to rate her relationship with the father on a scale of 1 to 10. Her answer 1. BUT over the last 2+ years despite this poor relationship with the father, my client had facilitated like 5 months of parenting time between the father/daughter and funded most of it too….transportation costs, etc.
Want to win your custody case? Rise above the animosity and make sure when you get to that trial that there’s extensive evidence of you FACILITATING parenting time with the other parent.
Checkout this older post on How To Win Custody of Your Kids too.