I bet that most divorce lawyers and Probate Judges will tell you that among the toughest cases they see are so called removal cases – where one parent wants to leave the state with the children, leaving the other parent behind. It is now also clear that moving across the state so that parenting is disrupted can also be grounds for application of the removal laws.
If the departing parent is going to a neighboring state this may be something that can be worked out without a trial and a Guardian ad Litem. However a move beyond a 2 or 3 hour drive can be disastrous to a parent/child relationship.
The reasons for asking to leave (and you must get either written permission from the other parent or a court order allowing the move) can be very valid and necessary as well, a job, a new spouse, familial support all of these can be critical to the moving parent.
Massachusetts handles removal cases in 2 ways based on what the parenting situation is. If the moving parent is the physical custodian, meaning that the children’s primary residence is with him or her then the standard is different from the standard … Keep reading
Here is the first topic in the series: Top 10 Topics to Consider When Getting Divorced.
If you have kids who aren’t grown up, then this can be the most difficult area to navigate. You will want to consider all of the topics in A and B below, and you may need to consider the topics in C, D and E as well.
A. Legal custody, joint vs. sole, what legal custody means; who makes major decisions such as health, religion, education, moral development; and/or emergency decisions?
Most folks end up with joint legal custody, which actually is presumed to be the default format in Massachusetts. Joint legal custody means that the parents need to communicate, and hopefully agree on the major decisions listed above. This can be very hard in a high conflict situation, and impossible in a situation involving violence, mental health or substance abuse issues. In fact, the state is asking people who are getting divorced because they can’t communicate, to continue to communicate about their children.
I have the utmost respect for those who manage sometimes after the divorce is done, to step back, take themselves out of the equation and … Keep reading