Joint Cstody and Moving Children with in NC


#1

If custody and visitation were set by court order (or via a separation agreement incorporated into the divorce decree), the moving party will need to show a material change of circumstance affecting the welfare of the children before custody/visitation may be changed. The court will then apply a “best interest” standard when setting the new regimen. Keep in mind that a change in a child’s residence is not, in and of itself, a substantial change of circumstance. Other factors must also be present.

If custody and visitation were set by unincorporated separation agreement, the situation is a little murkier. You’re not required to do anything. You could take the kids to Timbuktu if you wanted. The father’s only recourse is to seek involvement of the court. A court is not bound by separation agreement provisions pertaining to child custody/visitation (and child support). An agreement of this type has value only as long as both parties abide by it. Both parties need to trust each other, and be of like mind about what’s best for the children, for it to work.

My advice to you is to attempt to secure the father’s “blessing” prior to the move. If the distance between you and the kids’ father is greatly increased, you’ll need to negotiate a new visitation schedule. Flexibility is the key here, as is your acknowledgement of the importance of the father in the childrens’ lives. A major benefit to this approach is that the parents are able apply their own standards in determining what’s best for their children. Court is the absolute worst place to “settle” custody and visitation issues.

Not everything can be settled by out-of-court agreement. If you go to court for an initial custody ruling, or the court finds changed circumstances (relative to the then-existing order) affecting the welfare of the children, the judge will hear what you all have to say and then make a “best interest of the children” determination. Almost anything is possible in this case. Judges use their broad discretion to do pretty much whatever they want with custody and visitation. So yes, you could lose primary custody of the kids. Relocation cases are quite fact-specific. The custody order will probably also specify the transportation and travel arrangements necessary to implement the new court-ordered visitation schedule.


#2

My wife and I live in eastern NC and share joint custody of two children with their father (both are good parents). We have the children all school year while the father keeps them during their summer break. During the entire year we alternate weekends with the children per the agreement.
Questions #1 - If we move to the western part of the state (3 hours away) are we at risk of losing them as a result of my job transfer?
Question #2 - If not, can we require him to meet us half way to perform the weekend exchange?
Question #3 - If we are required to bring them to him when we have them (school year), will he be required to bring them to us during the summer when he has them?
Question #4 - If we can meet all the requiremnts of the original agreement, is it required that we have his blessing to make the move?

Thanks for your help.