my ex wife and i got divorced over ten years ago. the divorce decree said that the primary parent must tell the other parent and the courts that they will be moving and where to. well she did not do that. i just found out last year where she is with my kids. do i have any recourse against her at all?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Your recourse is to file a motion for contempt. You may also want to file a petition to modify the parenting plan, but that depends. First, it appears that you have not seen your kids in some time. The court will want to know why. If you can document that you have been continually trying to see them without having to resort to going to court, then you may have some success.
On the other hand, if you have known where your kids are since last year, and have made no efforts to see them, then I'm not so sure seeking a modification of the parenting plan is a good idea. Be prepared to explain what you did when she moved away? Were you able to see or talk to your kids at all? If not, was that because your ex-wife purposely concealed the kids' whereabouts and refused to respond to any documented (e-mails, letters, texts) attempts by you to find her? If so, did you file a police report for kidnapping and custodial interference? You also need to be prepared to explain why you waited so long to do anything in court. It may have been for financial reasons, which is probably the most understandable basis, provided you can document your attempts to see your kids outside of the court process. Just about any other excuse for this period of time is likely to be looked upon as an unreasonable excuse.
The bottom line is that the more you did to try to see your kids which you can document, the better things will be for you, and the more options you have. The less you did, the fewer options you have. Your ex-wife's role in all of this matters too. The more she did to purposely deny you visitation or contact with your children, the stronger your case will be.
To fully evaluate your case to really know what you are looking at, I suggest you find local counsel who can help you as this is not something you want to do on your own. If you cannot afford an attorney, do your best to locate one who work for you on either a sliding scale basis for pro bono.
Best of luck to you,