Ask a Divorce Lawyer: How can I keep my ex and our kids from moving each time my holiday visits come up?

Question: The way my paperwork reads I’m supposed to have my daughter for Christmas every other year (including this year). Yet each time it’s my turn, my ex informs me and the court that she is moving and it just happens to be during my set visitation period.

This has been going on for years and 2 years ago when this happened I filed with the court saying I thought she was moving under false pretenses, but she was still allowed to move. Now this year, she is on the move again.

Any ideas on how I can get my Christmas visit this year? The court case is in Oregon but I’m located in Washington.


Because I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, I can only give you general information, and I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state. You should not rely upon this information as creating an attorney-client relationship, and you should seek counsel in your area for further instructions and suggestions within the parameters of the laws of your state.

That being said, there are common themes in child custody and visitation cases, one of which is continuity —  courts tend to render decisions that maintain the child’s established custodial environment. An established custodial environment is a physical and a psychological environment where the child naturally looks for care, comfort, guidance and life’s necessities.

My concern based on the facts you provided is, these frequent moves disrupt your daughter’s life and render continuity impossible. Your custody order will affect how you can prevent the moves, if at all. Pay particular attention to provisions in the order that require advance notice for cancelling parenting time, that allow (or do not allow) the moves within a certain distance, that require each parent to facilitate a close and continuing relationship between your daughter and the other parent, and so forth. Those are court-ordered obligations. If the moves are disruptive enough, you may have a basis to modify custody.

However, the standards for custody modifications vary by state, the facts of your case and the judge or family referee hearing your motion.

You should consult with an attorney in your area to discuss what options, if any, you have based on the particular order language and facts in your case.


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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