I was recently informed by my STBX that she had met someone and plans to marry him late next year and move there with our children. He lives almost three hours away.
I have three children with whom I share custody (STBX is the primary physical custodian, but we can choose to adjust that to joint custody in the future). One of my children will turn 18 before this marriage takes place, so any custody agreement with that oldest child will likely not be affected. My second child is a young teen and I have custody of her for 4 out of every 14 days, plus alternate year holidays (this is currently also the case with my oldest child). Finally, I have shared (50/50) custody of my youngest, pre-teen child. This is all agreed upon in our separation agreement, which is not tied to a divorce decree because we are still currently in the separation stage. We have been separated for more than one year, so the divorce can be filed at any time now.
My STBX has already informed my children that they will be moving with her and has told them they will be going to school there. This is based on what my youngest child has told me of her own accord when she asked me if I would be upset if she moved there and went to school there. I told her that before we get into that, since it hasn’t happened yet, that I would need to talk to her Mom before we worry about where she is moving to, and in so doing, I tried to be as neutral in my talk with her (my daughter) as possible. My STBX has only briefly discussed with me that she wants to work with me on a new custody settlement to allow this to happen and wants to try to make it as fair as possible. However, in trying to do the math of enabling me to keep my two youngest children for the same amount of time as I currently have, there is no fair scenario that can be had that will allow this to happen. Even for me to agree on an every weekend schedule, plus summers, given the time/distance (3-4 hours round trip, meeting halfway, with Friday and Sunday traffic)…the fact that I would have to drive to pick them up and return them every weekend would simply not work for me.
Our current agreement states, and I quote:
[quote]Relocating. Unless the parties otherwise agree in a writing which is signed and notarized, the following shall occur:
In the event either party wishes to relocate with the children more than 30 minutes (peak traffic) away from the other parent’s residence, the first parent shall, as soon as possible, notify the other parent of his or her intentions in writing and will not relocate until a new time-sharing agreement is negotiated or is ordered by a court of law. The parents agree that once written notification is given, they shall, in good faith, actively participate in negotiating a new time sharing agreement according to the following timeline: Self-negotiation (parent to parent) - 14 days from the date of the notification Negotiation through mediation - 28 days from the date of the notification If the parties reach an impasse they agree to procure the unbundled services of a Parenting Coordinator.
I had hoped that this one possibility in our separation/divorce – that my STBX would consider moving so far away and that it would involve the possibility of adjusting custody – would never occur and that we would always live close enough to allow our children to continue to attend the school system they are already accustomed to. I feel that my STBX has unduly influenced my children to think that they will be moving away without first discussing it with me and going through the above process in our agreement. That said, I’m not sure how all this would play out if I were not to agree to a change and wish to keep it as the status quo. I don’t know if she would try to move them anyway, or if she even can, if I do not agree to anything by next year. I would hope not. But what would I do in that case?
Finally, if I were to find a scenario to agree with, allowing this to happen, but it changes the amount of time I get to spend with my children (i.e.: reduces the time), would child support also change? I am already struggling financially with the current arrangement and need to look into working weekends. I currently work a full time day job. But to change the agreement would impede my ability to increase my income, to work weekends, and it would increase the amount of gas consumption of my car, wear and tear, etc.
I do not know what to do. Please help me.
Thank you in advance for your input.