Primary Custody “Don’ts” Part One: Relocating Your Children

If you’re trying to establish or defend your primary custody over your children, there are a few major errors you just don’t want to make. One of the top offenders on your list of “don’ts” is pulling your kids out of school and taking off for another location. Technically, you’re within your rights to do so as a parent as long as there’s no court order in place to stop you, and in a particularly bad situation you may feel you have no choice. But that court order could always come – and in the meantime, how is your action going to look in the eyes of the court?

It’s one thing to make a planned move with the full knowledge and consent of the other parent and the court. But if your action doesn’t sit well with that other parent, be prepared for a legal response. In the face of a sudden move, the parent who remains has the right to go to court and “snap back the other parent.” This means that the court can demand that you return your kids or risk contempt of court or even potential jail time. Some judges will even tell parents that they’re free to go wherever they wish – but their kids aren’t going with them.

If you feel the need to relocate your kids, don’t just suddenly move them to another state and set them up with new schools, doctors, et cetera. Always coordinate your plans with your attorney, the other parent, and the court, and you may be able to carry out your relocation with no trouble. But if you just pull up and leave without even telling the other parent, you’ll draw a major red flag indicating that your parental judgement isn’t strong enough for primary custody. You’ve been warned!

Primary Custody “Don’ts” Part Two: Withdrawing Financial Support

Are you seeking primary custody or fighting to maintain that primary custody? If so, there are some primary missteps you never take. Let’s look at one of the biggest “don’ts” on the list – withdrawing your financial support without proper permission and documentation.

Providing the agreed-upon amount of child support is a critical indicator of your judgement as a parent and your willingness to help ensure your children’s current and future well-being, even if it’s obvious (at least to you) that they’re in no financial peril or that they’re aligned with the other parent. This doesn’t apply solely to alimony, either. If you’ve been saving up to help you child get a car, for example, and the child is now almost old enough to make that purchase, you might think it reasonable to go ahead and shut that funding down – but don’t do it. If your child has special therapeutic or other medical needs, don’t withdraw your support for that care. If you’re paying toward your child’s private school enrollment, don’t pull the plug on those tuition payments without consulting your lawyer first.

Regardless of whether you feel that the amount of money you’re paying is just, you cannot modify the terms of court-ordered child support to suit your whims, even if your own finances are taking a beating in the process. Remember that you have to make your play for primary custody to the same court you’re disobeying. You must do everything you can to reassure the court that you possess the proper judgment and values to receive primary custody. If you need to have the amount adjusted in keeping with financial challenges, there are proper channels for requesting that. But talk to your lawyer before making any kind of alterations to your financial support