Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)
314.727.4880

If One Divorced Parent Proposes To Move, The Other Parent Must Object Within 30 Days

“Carla” wondered if she should be upset. Her “ex” had just told her that he was moving from south St. Louis County, near where she lived with their children, to St. Charles to be near his new job.

 

She was already working two jobs and didn’t see how she could fit in all the extra travel time. “Hal”, her ex-husband, told her not to worry, they’d work it out.

 

Carla had good reason to worry. Their parenting plan required her to deliver the kids to her “ex’s” home for their two mid-week visits with dad, and every other weekend. (Hal was responsible for bringing them back.) This wasn’t a problem when Hal lived 5 minutes away; she dropped them off on the way to her evening and weekend job. Now, Hal was an hour away. With 2 hours spent driving every Tuesday and Thursday, this would be hard on her two girls, aged 9 and 11.

 

Carla hated to cause problems for Hal. He was a good man. He had finally found a promising job after being laid off several months earlier. Her girls loved their dad and enjoyed being with him. Still, so much time on the road didn’t seem right. Plus, her girls had so many friends in each of their neighborhoods. They wouldn’t know a soul in St. Charles.

 

Another attorney had advised that she had a very good chance at reducing the number of visits Hal would have with the kids because of all the driving. And, the fact that her children had no friends in Hal’s new neighborhood could “work in her favor, too”. The judge would likely agree that spending more time with their mother in familiar surroundings would be better than the extra time on the road.

 

Carla sought me out because she wasn’t comfortable with what this lawyer proposed. She didn’t have any problems with Hal, just with the distance to his new home.

 

I couldn’t have disagreed more with what this lawyer advised. First, predicting with confidence what a judge will do is foolish. Second, because the judge is bound by statute to find a solution that is in the best interests of the children while preserving a meaningful relationship with both parents, it seemed unlikely that Hal would be “punished” with less time overall with his kids, particularly since he was so beloved by them.

 

But, Carla had to act quickly if she wanted some say-so in formalizing a new custody arrangement with her ex-husband. The law provides only 30 days for a parent to file an objection with the court when the other parent notifies them that they are moving. Failing to object within that period, the parent is presumed to agree and the existing parenting plan remains in place.

 

Carla hired me to file her objection along with a motion to modify the parenting plan. But, simultaneously, we contacted Hal’s counsel to begin, as Hal had said, to “work things out”. For my money, that’s the real purpose of the filing the objection. It creates the opportunity and the atmosphere for two well-meaning parents to find a solution that is good for everyone—mom, dad and the kids.

 

In the end, Carla and Hal came up with a plan that the judge accepted immediately. The mid-week visits were eliminated and replaced with an extra weekend every month. Plus, the kids now spend two additional weeks each summer living with Hal during the time Hal’s new employer closes down the plant for changeover. The children see their dad about the same amount of time as before, but for longer periods. There is less driving…Hal drives both ways on weekends…and the kids quickly made friends in their new neighborhood.