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Considering parental relocation in custody agreement negotiations

When working through a painful divorce, it is always easiest to only consider what is in the foreseeable future. Parties involved in custody negotiations are usually searching for the quickest means of settlement in order to allow everyone to move on and begin the healing process. However, failing to consider potential issues that may arise further down the road, such as parental relocation, can become major issues that affect the entire family all over again.

If one parent believes there is even a remote chance of relocation in the near or distant future, it would benefit all involved for him or her to speak up during initial custody discussion. There are several reasons why taking such action may be necessary. First, arranging travel for a minor child who needs to be accompanied is no small task. Parents must not only be able to effectively communicate and work together but must also maintain communication with airlines and flight personnel to ensure the child's safety. The TSA has strict rules regarding unaccompanied minor travels.

Second, discussions need to take place regarding who will pay for travel, and how. If the possibility of relocation is mentioned within initial discussions, an attorney or mediator can assist the parties in factoring those costs into child support discussions. A child should not be forced to sacrifice a parental relationship simply because the other parent does not live nearby. While video and teleconferencing are certainly great tools for maintaining contact, they do not take the place of one-on-one personal connection.

Finally, if these issues are not addressed up front and the situation does arise, returning to court to request a modification can take some time and require additional legal costs. The safety of the child comes first. Therefore, it is an extremely important reminder that parties on both the sending and receiving sides of unaccompanied minor travel be responsible and trustworthy. A court will most certainly take these factors into consideration when setting a long-distance visitation schedule. Bottom line, by taking a little more time to address future possibilities when discussing child custody, parties can save money as well as create peace of mind in knowing a child is looked after every step of the way.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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