Child Custody for Out of State Parents
What every parent should know?
Ideally if you are getting divorced it is a mutual thing where you both want it. I say this because these are the divorces that tend to be the least let's make sure we hurt the other person as much as possible. The people I know like this seem to run along smoothly and the children seem to be less aware that there was ever a problem.
We both know this is not the case though. A lot of us will either be the dumpee or the dumper in which case there will be hurt feelings, anger and confusion. Worse than that you'll be lucky if you see the court room only once. It would be nice if we could all be drones and not have feelings because in these cases this is where the battle comes from.
If you have children please try to shield them realizing as my child so eloquently put it no one asked her what she wanted. The reason I say this is because a lot of time is spent on the well you did this so now I am going to do that and the only people who really hurt besides that person you are trying to hurt is your children and if you knew that going into it maybe you could be a little bit better at not trying to hurt the other person. I bring this up because it brings me to the crux of this hub.
When I divorced I was quite naive. I believed that although this person had cheated on me and done everything they could to shatter my dreams of a happily ever after leave it to beaver family that they would never be dishonest in the divorce after all I agreed to the divorce. Wrong. In my naive moment I let myself and more importantly my children down.
First, if you are going to move before you sign on the dotted line try to have the jurisdiction of your kids moved to that state. This will be hard so it is better if you move in the separation period and start proceedings yourself there. This will inevitably force your ex to come to where you and the children live if they want to fight you.This is to your advantage. If you divorce in Tennessee and move with the kids to Oklahoma, Tennessee will still have jurisdiction over your kids. It is almost always hard to get that changed even if you have lived in Oklahoma awhile. For whatever reason Oklahoma does not have rights to your kids no matter whether you live there one, five, or ten years. So if you have a vindictive ex guess who can keep dragging you back to court there and guess how those expenses can add up. (I just picked two states as an example.)
Secondly, if you have custody of the kids try to get your own Guardian ad lei tam in your own state. Think about it this way. If the guardian ad lei tam is from the state your ex is in unless they are the biggest screw up on the planet they are going to put on the best face they can leaving you unprotected because unless you have a big bag of money in your back yard you can't leave work to go flying back and forth to the state to interview with this person over and over again. Another thought to that is with school and all the other schedules you cannot pull the kids out to go do these visits. It makes for some extra money and alot of extra reading, but atleast you will have someone who can meet with you and give you the same courtesy that the other person is giving to your ex. On top of that you can't really traipse the people who know you to another state to testify, but your GAL can certainly interview them to give the judge a more adequate idea of who you are.
Thirdly, it seems like the state that has jurisdiction is going to try to keep the kids in that state, so the best thing you can do from the moment you divorce is if you know your ex is a vindictive person make sure you start squarrelling money away immediately. The last thing you want is to go in with no lawyer because you will most certainly lose. It's hard these days and it seems like the harder you try to get ahead the harder it actually is so I know it is no small feat to save enough for an attorney, but you got to. If your ex was vindictive before they will most likely be after that does not change just because you divorce.
Fourth, bad things happen to good people so you definitely got to watch your back because if you get caught off guard the next thing you know your losing everything. It's not enough to be a good parent. I know because I was told by anyone and everyone who knew me well your a good parent and it can't happen. I got to court and the next thing I knew I was being told I was homeless though I had never been homeless a day in my life. I was 1400 miles away from any kind of proof and ended up losing my daughters. To make it worse I was then given the worst visitation schedule because the Judge accepted the other parenting plan saying he had never received mine even though it was delivered two days shy of a month in advance and signed for.
Fifth, make sure you get every fedex receipt and that you document everything so when you get to court you can say look I got this that says this. Paper is your friend. Even if you think it is insignificant keep it because you never know when you are going to be defending what you said happened.
So in the end I will probably end up paying this person a third of my income when they paid me 521 a month for three years. They were smart though because they drained all my resources and built up theirs so when we went to court they had all the cards and I was left holding a shovel.