The number one rule for clients / parties to a Family Law case is to not have the judge hate you. This is the single number one thing. This is more important than paying your lawyer or wearing pants to court.
Funny, then, that so many parties lately want to do the thing that angers Family Court judges the most: Move the minor child far, far away from the other parent.
Child relocation – when one parent moves permanently out of the state with the minor child – is your Family Court judge’s worst nightmare. As soon as you ask this they reach into their robe for their Advil.
Before deciding that you want to ask the judge to move your child to Florida, or Texas, or Tokyo, consider what you are really asking for (what the judge hears when you ask to move): that you want to separate the child from his or her other parent forever. Because that is how the judges see it. And there is nothing the judges want less than for a child at case before them to enter the courtroom with two parents, and to leave with one.
Consider this rule of thumb.
Whenever a brand new client walks into my office I ask them three questions: “What do you need?”, “What do you want”, and “What can you afford?”.
This will prove helpful if you are planning to ask a judge to move to another part of the country with a child.
Forget the case law. Forget international treaties. Forget what kind of parent the non-moving party is. Forget what the child wants (unless they are older!).
Ask yourself this, in your heart of hearts, when no one is listening or judging: Do you need to move to Florida, or Texas, or Tokyo? Or do you want to move? Because the heart of your case and the judge’s answer to your question lies in your answer.