I have joint custody of my son andhe has lived with me since he was 5. He is now 15. I have to move 5-6 hours from my current location. His father would like our son to live with him now and is enticing our son with many "great" things he can give him. His father does have a stable job and owns a home. Because of the economy, most of my jobs in the past 3-4 years have gone overseas, so my job history doesn't look as good. Would the father automatically get custody because of the stability or would it be based on where my son would prefer he wants to live?
6 Answers from Attorneys
At your son's age, a lot of weight will be placed on where he wants to live, unless it can be shown that it is not in his best interest.
Your sons age and any reasoned request by him to live with his father are considerations the court would weigh. If the only reason father would press the change in custody rests with his better economic position, it would seem justified to request a child support increase to help close the gap between the respective incomes of the two households.
Nothing is automatic, but given your son's age and gender, the family law judge may modify to give your ex-husband more time than his current situation. If you are overseas, the court will look favorably to giving you ex primary physical custody.
Stability is not a big factor, if a factor at all. A move away request can take a good amount of time to be heard, that is it will take at least 3 month. I have taught two seminars in San Diego County to attorneys on moving with a child and I can tell you that they are not simple. However, you son's desires will be given great weight by the court. He even has the right to tell the judge his desire directly. You may call my office for a free half hour consultation so that you will better understand what will happen if you decide to move. Good Luck, Pat McCrary
You need an attorney to help you with these issues. First, your son is old enough now where the court will give consideration to what he wants. However that does not mean your ex will win. The courts are very used to what we call "Disneyland Dads" that entice children through toys such as motorcycles, cars and great material things.
Moving out of the area can present a problem and that is why you will need an attorney to help you with this matter. Ms. Kock's idea about increasing child support to close the gap is an excellent idea and I suggest you start talking to attorneys about that line of thinking.