The Only Family Court Case You Ever Need to Know About!

I was witness to a child relocation case that was taken to trial which I think perfectly encapsulates the entire Family Court experience.  The names have been covered up of course to protect the innocent.  It goes like this:

Mother has placement (physical custody) of the minor children.  Meaning they live with her, and visit with their Father.  Father pays support.  The parties share legal custody (decision making) and genuinely love their kids.  Kids are happy, healthy, and caught in the middle.


Father is making the most of it, enjoys his visits with the children, wishes he could see them more.  The bond between Father and Children is admittedly strong.

Mother is offered an opportunity for a promotion, earning significantly more money.  As in, twice as much money.  The problem is, she has to move out of state in order to take the job.  She has to relocate to FL – with the kids.  To take a job that will increase her salary significantly and thus the quality of life of the children.  But, they would have to move far, far away from the Father, with whom they have a strong bond.

So far, so typical.  A toxic Family Court case with no real winner.  Intractable.  And the parties didn’t help themselves, either.  Taking everything personally.  Never giving one another the benefit of the doubt.  Bickering, backstabbing, the whole nine.

So they hold a trial.  Several afternoons spent in court (instead of at work, or with family).  Lots of testimony.  Lots of money spent.  Lots of stress.  And they finally get a decision.  Is Mother permitted to move to FL with the kids – away from Father – but into a whole lot more income?  No.  The judge did not allow Mother to move.  She and the kids stay right where they are.  But, in order to make up for the extra income Mother lost out on by not being allowed to move, Father’s child support is DOUBLED.  Father leaves miserable.  Mother leaves miserable.  If you only ever remember one case I blog about it should be this one.  This is Family Court.




Co-Parenting During and After Divorce

Many parents choose to co-parent when they share joint custody of their child or children. This method of parenting makes children feel secure and can add consistency and structure back into a child’s life after a divorce. However, even the best parents can have a difficult time co-parenting effectively after a divorce.

Sometimes, the key to effective co-parenting is as easy as changing your frame of mind. First and foremost realize that while your marriage or relationship was about you and your former spouse, your new post-divorce relationship is solely about your child or children. Whatever happened or didn’t happen in the marriage likely has no place in your co-parenting communications. If it helps, try to look at the situation with almost a professional tone – your job is to raise a healthy and happy child, and completing that job effectively means you need to communicate with and spend time with your former spouse. Try to keep conversations polite, respectful, and about the children. Never put your children in the middle of your problems and don’t use them to send messages; if you need to communicate with your former spouse, make sure that you do it.

Co-parenting, as with any relationship, takes work and dedication, but the end result is worth it.

Traveling (with shared custody)

Traveling is a great way to educate children about different cultures, places, and way of life. However, parents who share custody typically need to take a few extra steps to prepare for their trip, especially if they plan to take their child out of the country. In many cases, you will at least need the other parent’s permission, and it is a good idea to get that permission in writing, and possibly even bring that document with you on your travels. If the parents can’t agree on whether the child should be traveling or not, the courts may have to get involved.

If a child who is 15 years old or less needs to apply for a passport, both of his or her parents need to go with them to apply for the passport. If both parents cannot go, then the absent one must fill out a special form. If the absent parent can’t be located, the court may be able to grant permission.

The government also has a program where you can sign up to be notified if someone has applied for a passport for your child without your knowledge. This is of course to prevent the situations where one parent takes the other child out of the country without the other parent’s knowledge.

Traveling with shared custody can be a tricky situation and it is always a good idea to consult a lawyer beforehand. It is also a good idea to research the passport requirements for your particular situation. It is always better to be overcautious than to have any issues when trying to leave or enter the country.

Marissa McGill

Staying Married for the Children

So many couples put off divorce until their children are older, truly believing that once their children are adults themselves, the parents will then have the freedom to get a divorce without ruining their children’s perfect, married-parent childhood. However, this is not usually a good idea.

Children are pretty good at sensing emotions of the people that they are close to. Parents may be thinking that they are putting a good show on for their children, but many times, their children can tell that their home is not a happy one. This can be confusing and frustrating for children, especially if the parents act like everything is okay, since the children may feel that things are not okay, but their parents are telling them otherwise.

Children also may miss out on witnessing what a real, loving relationship looks like. They may grow up thinking that their parents are in love, but if what they see from their parents is anger, coldness, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, etc., they may erroneously believe that that is what love is. This puts the children at a disadvantage when they are trying to establish their own relationships.

Many times, divorce can bring relief to all members involved. Children could feel more secure if things are settled and they are kept updated (appropriately for their age level). Plus, they will certainly notice that mom and dad are happier apart, and therefore, likely better parents.

Marissa McGill

The muted horrors of parental alienation

All too often two parents enter a Family Court but only one leaves. By that I mean that after a divorce the parent that holds primary physical custody over the child (the parent with whom the child lives most of the time, let’s call her “Amy”) determines at some point that the child does not need the other parent (“Mike”) and directly or indirectly, consciously or not, Amy begins to curtail or undermine the child’s communication with Mike, time with Mike, holidays with Mike, and ultimately the child’s bond with Mike. First it’s not being invited to a birthday party. Then it’s being removed from the contact list at the child’s school. Then the other parent’s extended family is excluded, and so on, until methodically the other parent is as far away from that child as can be. Mike suffers, sure, but the child suffers most of all. So many children are not lucky enough to have two caring parents in their lives; don’t deny your child a bond with their other parent. You may not love them anymore but the child sure does. The child shouldn’t suffer because you and Mike divorced…