She is planning on moving almost 6 hours away, though technically she would remain in the same state. However, realistically she might as well be moving out of state because this would severely restrict my parenting time with my child.
How can I prevent her from moving so far away even though she would still be living in the same state?
I am only licensed to practice law in Illinois so I cannot offer legal advice on divorce on the laws in other states. However, I can provide you with a general overview regarding relocation.
In my state, the statute requires a court order, by agreement of the parties or after a hearing, before either party may remove a minor child from the state.
If your Joint Parenting agreement does not contain any further restriction on removal (for example that neither party can remove the child from the county or school district), then your ex-wife is not in violation of the Joint Parenting Agreement or the statute.
Therefore, you would have to ask the court to reconsider or modify the Joint Parenting Agreement based on this change in circumstances.
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If less than 30 days have passed since the Joint Parenting Agreement was entered, you may be able to file a motion asking the court to reconsider the terms of the Joint Parenting Agreement.
If less than two years have passed since the Joint Parenting Agreement was entered there is a very high standard for even bringing the Motion. The court will not allow you to bring the Motion unless you can show, through affidavits, that there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may seriously endanger his/her physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
If at least two years have passed since the Joint Parenting Agreement was entered, there is a somewhat lower standard. However, a modification of child custody is still difficult to obtain.
The court may grant a motion to modify, if you can show that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the custodian, and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child. In your case, you would have to show that the relocation is not in the best interest of the child.
Before the court will consider the issue, it will likely require the parties to attend mediation, pursuant to the terms of your Joint Parenting Agreement.
If you do not wish to modify custody, and only wish to modify the visitation schedule due to the fact that your child will be moving, then you will likely have to mediate the issue before proceeding to court.
Your Joint Parenting Agreement should have a provision for mediation of disputes regarding the terms of the agreement. If you are unable to reach agreement in mediation, then you could file a Motion to Modify Visitation with the court.
All of these options involve complex legal issues. You should contact a qualified divorce lawyer to review the facts of your case and obtain advice on divorce.