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Svein
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International relocation from Idaho with children
      #430971 - 07/23/08 03:14 PM

I'll try to keep this short, so please bear with me...

I am a permanent resident alien (green card holder) currently residing in Idaho. My wife left our two minor children (then ages 6 and 7) alone overnight in May while I was out of town. She has a history of severe depression and attempted suicide a weekend and a half after we separated in late March this year. Since the child abandonment and by mutual consent as well as the court's, our children have lived with me in my new home. She is currently subject to oversight by Child Protective Services here in Idaho and there is a 7-item case plan that she must adhere to and fulfill. She has battled alcoholism for some time but is on the road to recovery. There is also a warrant out for her arrest for injury to child following the child abandonment.

This week, I filed for divorce and asked for sole custody of the children. That part of the issue I feel reasonably good about given her current situation.

However, I feel very strongly about relocating to my home country following th divorce. I have studied applicable case law here in Idaho and nationally, and understand relocation in general to be an iffy topic at best, especially in terms of seeking a court order in my favor.

While I do not wish to remove our children's access to their mother or vice versa, I do feel it is in the children's best interest to relocate for the following reasons:

- their family support system in Idaho consists of their mother, maternal grandmother, and maternal aunt's family. Their aunt has 3 children of her own and has only seen our children 3 times over the past 12 months. Their grandmother, while supportive of her grandkids, has a full time job and has only been able to assist with the children for more than a few hours at a time three times since May.
- Their family support system in the relocating country consists of their paternal grandmother, paternal grandfather, my two brothers and their wives (no children), my own aunt and uncle as well as 2 cousins, each with children of their own. They also have an aunt their own age by way of their paternal grandfather's second marriage.
- The minor children are dual citizen of the US and Norway (the intended relocation destination)
- The children lived in Norway since their births in 2000 and 2001 until June 2004.
- The children do not speak Norwegian although did at on point.
- Norway offers universal health care funded by the national government. All children enjoy health benefits at no cost through age 12. Beyond age 12, the only out of pocket cost is co-pay. All children enjoy dental benefits at no cost through age 18. There is no out of pocket cost associated with dental visits for children.
- The children's financial situation would not be affected by the move inasmuch as I already have a job offer at the same salary that I'm currently making. As long as I get custody of the children, child support payments from my wife is not at issue as she would not be due any.
- Norway offers 5 weeks' paid vacation from work every year plus 10 statutory holidays outside of weekends. School holidays include 2 months' summer vacation, one week in fall and another in winter, 14 days over Christmas and New Year's, and 10 days over Easter.
- I am willing to offer visitation with the children's mother during summers as well as alternating Christmas/Easter holidays and would be able to accompany the children during their flights to and from the US (both financially and vacation-wise).
- Education opportunities and extracurricular activities offered are similar to those currently available in our area

Should I choose to move abroad without bringing the children, their ability to visit me would be limited to summers (2 months) and Christmas, due to the vast difference in school holiday schedules.

Of course, contact with their mother could and would be facilitated through telephone and internet/camera throughout the rest of the year.

Both Norway and the US are signatories to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction of 1980 and both countries recognize it and have incorporated its statues in their laws.

So I guess my question is: does anybody have experience with international relocations of this kind or similar situations resulting in out-of-state relocations being granted, and if so, would you consider sharing some what your have learned or even advice?

I appreciate any and all feedback on this.

Thank you


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motorboater
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with children [Re: Svein]
      #431100 - 07/23/08 07:35 PM

No experience with intl law here.

That said, the kids' interests are more time with mother than your move would allow. Which is enabled only if you stay in Idaho, not move. Your list of "reasons" is rationalization.

Sounds like mom wants to be with kids, and is "on the road to recovery" so stick it out for their sake.

Raising kids ain't about you. If you think 3 months with mom (or whatever your plan adds up to) is good for kids that 6 months a year with mom would be twice as good. And fair, btw.

You seem to have rationalized pursuing your interests over the kids' already, so I'm not sure it matters. But there you go.


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Svein
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: motorboater]
      #431108 - 07/23/08 08:28 PM

Thanks - I needed a fresh outlook. This isn't really about international law, though; Idaho clearly has jurisdiction.

Mom is on her road to recovery, and seeing kids twice per week now. I'm making sure the kids call her daily (she has called them but five times since May but never misses a visitation) so they have frequent contact with her.

That having been said, any list of reasons (short of domestic abuse or worse) could always be viewed as self-rationalization; you turn things upside down and my wife's refusal to move abroad (again, I might add - we lived there for six years and she speaks the language fluently) could be viewed by a lesser person as reluctance on her part to consider the children's best interest. I'm playing devil's advocate here to my own arguments, to some degree.

Mom spending 6 months with the kids per year is easily 18 months away considering the child protection case. Meanwhile, she can't take the children long-term and my ability to fully involve myself in my current job (which strictly speaking requires travel) will force me to change employers at some point.


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msglegal
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #432455 - 07/25/08 10:40 PM

Hi Svein--

You may have grounds under Idaho's relocation law and under the Hague Convention to take the children with you, but such a move would require a specific blueprint of legal action, to make it happen properly.
I have handled a number of international cases (I am a lawyer in both USA and Europe).
Please feel free to call if I can help you.

Mark S. Guralnick, Esq.
msglegal@comcast.net
1-866-337-2900


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Relayer
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: msglegal]
      #432661 - 07/26/08 01:17 PM

You have zero chance of removing American citizens (your kids) from American soil.

You getting the hell out might be a good idea though

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Rebecca5
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #432729 - 07/26/08 04:42 PM

You need to seriously consider the ramifications of the group of changes you're seeking. You want sole custody of the children because your wife is unstable (and has quite the negative history), yet you are willing to allow them to travel internationally to spend (what will be) several weeks at a time with her, with your person in another country. How much sense does that make....really?

Mom's too psycho to care for them all the time, but I don't mind shipping them across the ocean for the entire summer? Ummmm....yeah.....no. Your best best for retaining sole custody in this situation is to maintain frequent and short periods of parenting time.

The reasons that you're offering support a lateral move, not an upward one. Oh...and I probably wouldn't go into a court of law in the US and tell them that your country's governmental practices are better. That's pretty much a no-go. The school calendars don't really reflect a "vast" difference. As an FYI, the Norwegian schedule is almost exactly the same as my kids' school schedule. That's a district thing, not a country thing.

Your best bet is to stay in the country that you chose to raise your children in, so that both of you can have maximum access to them. Anything else is terribly unfair to the children.


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Svein
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Rebecca5]
      #433161 - 07/27/08 11:13 PM

msqlegal: thank you for your balanced response. I've studied U.S. case law, and while there is definitely precedence in existence for supporting both an international move-away as well as a having a restraining order put in place, it all boils down to the children's best interest, which is also what I hold highest and want to ensure.

Relayer: the minor children are dual citizen. They are citizen of both countries. Your argument falls on its own premises.

Rebecca5: Thank you for your input. These are very valid points. At this point, the kids cannot be placed with their mother as she has been charged with injury to child. The case is ongoing and the Sheriff's Department just took an interest in the case. Motorboater suggested earlier that their mother would be able to see them for 6 months at a time. That possibility seems a very long way off. In fact, 1-2 nights per week is more realistic, which amounts to less time with the children than extended vacations would allow. Yet, as you point out: would it be prudent to let them spend time alone with their mother in her situation (lest it changes?). On option that resolves this is to make it a premise for her visitation to have the children stay at their grandmother's house for the duration (or ask their grandmother to stay at the mother's house). We'll see. But I agree - this is a concern.

On the lateral vs upward move: one of the things that always worried me about taking employment in the US (I've worked in the country since 1993, with a 6 year break living in Norway when the children were born - their mother, who is a type 1 diabetic, and I decided it was best to be pregnant there because of the bi-weekly pregnancy care she as a diabetic received free of charge) was the lack of job security. A 2 week termination notice stands in stark contrast to the 3 months laid down by law in most western European countries. In addition, I will not be able to retain my current employment here in the US without being able to travel extensively. So far, I have not been able to find alternative employment with the same pay structure that does not have at least a 40% travel requirement. So you could say if I only wait long enough, it would definitely be an upward move...

And rest assured I won't go the government practices route... But thanks for pointing it out to me - no use bringing politics into this; the children's best interest is still paramount here, even for me (though that view of my intentions may not be shared by some who read this). I brought the issue up on this board because I want valid input and feedback on the issue, not to validate my own thinking.

Thanks again, all.


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motorboater
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #433227 - 07/28/08 10:26 AM

She's a potentially suicidal, recovering alcoholic who "abandoned" her kids but wants back in right?

Obviously, if there are safety issues, you need to supervise and limit so and make things contingent on continued improvement, etc.

You can't really do that from Norway.

And I wasn't thinking here, be with mom for six months. Rather if both parents want to be involved AND she's "on the road to recovery" as you stated, then something around 50/50 sounds right. For all of you.

Whereas your proposal in the OP sounds essentially like you get what you want, but kids and mom do not.

So yeah, I'm recommending a sacrifice on your part. But hey, if someone has to do it, you're the prime candidate in this little family picture. Kids are kids and mom doesn't sound up to it.


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Svein
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: motorboater]
      #433597 - 07/29/08 12:17 AM

Thanks, motorboater. It's not a pretty picture, I admit. And like I said earlier - I'm posting here because I obviously need some counterpoints to my own. Mom's arguments don't really fly around here anymore (though there's no way in hell I'm ever going to tell the kids that or anything else going on).

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Maury
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #434052 - 07/30/08 01:14 AM

I disagree that there is no chance of removing children from American soil. I have seen it happen. However, it is certainly an uphill battle and would require hitting the ball out of the park. In the end, custody decisions are made based on what is in the children's best interests. That standard is a moving target at best. Nonethless, there are strong arguments to be made for children to remain in their own country, with their established friends, with known extended family and in a system they understand.

To prevail, you would have to convince a court that the other parent was extremely detrimental or inappropriate and that the relocation would afford them of benefits that could not be sustained where they are. It is a deck loaded against you in many regards. If a court were to allow a reloaction, there would likely be a consequence. That means paying for trips back to the U.S. on a regular basis.


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Relayer
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #434496 - 07/30/08 09:02 PM

Quote:

Relayer: the minor children are dual citizen. They are citizen of both countries. Your argument falls on its own premises.






In a U.S. court, their U.S. citizenship makes a HUGE difference (dual or not) and as Murray said, it would require hitting the ball out of the park.

It's going to be tough/impossible convicing an American judge that removing the kids to Norway is in their best interest.

Your own personal situation does not come into play.

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Relayer
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Maury]
      #434501 - 07/30/08 09:12 PM

Quote:

I disagree that there is no chance of removing children from American soil. I have seen it happen. However, it is certainly an uphill battle and would require hitting the ball out of the park. In the end, custody decisions are made based on what is in the children's best interests. That standard is a moving target at best. Nonethless, there are strong arguments to be made for children to remain in their own country, with their established friends, with known extended family and in a system they understand.

To prevail, you would have to convince a court that the other parent was extremely detrimental or inappropriate and that the relocation would afford them of benefits that could not be sustained where they are. It is a deck loaded against you in many regards. If a court were to allow a reloaction, there would likely be a consequence. That means paying for trips back to the U.S. on a regular basis.




Yet she is unstable and he has agreed to sending them back during vacation? Will she magically become stable once they arrive back? He will blow his "sole custody" motion once this comes into play.

The mother may have problems but whatI see is a foreign national who has gone to great lengths to ensure she is screwed. The judge is going to see right through this load of crap. These kids aren't going anywhere. Ya, an Idaho judge is going to send kids off to a foreign country where they cant even speak the language. He'd have a hard time simply moving from Idaho, let alone to Norway.

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Svein
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Maury]
      #434673 - 07/31/08 11:34 AM

Thanks, Maury - paying for trips is not an issue. That is something I'm prepared to do; also accompany them during their trips.

A quick update on the situation as well: I just emailed my wife inviting her to co-parent with a specific issue concerning our daughter. She plainly told me she could not help me with this as I am seeking full custody of the children. Needless to say, I was extremely taken aback by this as I had fully expected her to want to be a more involved mother... Instead, she blamed the children's issues (which have not changed significantly since our separation - these are issues that go back several years) and her own behavior on my actions. I can understand and even appreciate her sentiments, but not being able to set those aside and want to be involved with the children's well-being? That I simply don't get.


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Debi
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #434715 - 07/31/08 01:31 PM

"can understand and even appreciate her sentiments, but not being able to set those aside and want to be involved with the children's well-being? That I simply don't get. "

What do you expect of her? You are going to try to remove the children from the country and make her a visitor in their lives. She is doing what many NCP's do when a former spouse pulls this kind of crap. She is distancing herself now so it doesn't hurt as much later. From what you've stated about her it's more than obvious you are going to end up with custody. It doesn't sound as if she is going to be able to afford a lawyer (at least not a good one) and if that's the case she'll lose while you move the children to another continent.

BTW......I haven't chimed in before now but if you are so concerned about the kids well being with her how can you consider moving so far away where the majority of her time will be unsupervised? You really can't go into court and say "They should be with me because she's unstable but I'm going to allow her to have them all summer and parts of holidays. I'll even pay the travel expenses to have my children spend unsupervised time with an unstable person." Yep that sounds great.

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Svein
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Debi]
      #434745 - 07/31/08 02:21 PM

I'm hearing a lot of concern regarding the possibility of allowing the kids visitation over the summers and possibly more. And I get it, I truly do. It's a concern of mine, too, and definitely part of the reason I went on this board to get some good feedback. And to be honest, I have to say I'm still on the fence in this whole relocation thing.

I've also learned that X thinks 'sole custody' means no visitation. She needs to read up on that, of course, and I've tried to let her know the court (or preferably ourselves) will set up a visitation schedule but got cut off before I got there.

A note to Relayer: the mother is legally unable to get even shared or joint custody at this point. Should she recover mentally, that may be an option I'd work with her on in the future, all things depending. It's a sensitive issue, not just for the obvious reasons, but also because if I receive full custody of the children, Health & Welfare will vacate their case against her, and then who would follow up on her progress? Me? That would cause yet another source of friction - I'm already too much in control of her life (OK, paraphrasing here but you get the point). So yes, I'm concerned, and will continue to be concerned whether I remain in the US or not. An idea that comes to mind (but that won't be received well, I know) is the option of paying for mom's trip abroad a certain number of times per year. She is a teacher and has summers off plus ample time over Christmas and winter to visit for a week or two at a time.

I'm also a little confused by Relayer's statement that I have "gone to great lengths to ensure she is screwed" - what exactly, by example, have I done to make her situation worse? If that is true, I definitely need to have some behavior modification done myself. I was extremely supportive of her recovery work until she had a relapse in her drinking (she is since back on the wagon again) and later when she physically assaulted me following a family planning meeting with Health and Welfare.


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Maury
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #434952 - 07/31/08 08:08 PM

I think most people who are sensitive to parents rights or being a parent would have serious concerns regarding a plan to relocate children overseas. I think you would agree that it is a difficult issue for any parent. That is particularly true when the children have been established in this country. I would also have a grave concern about the prosepects of enforcing a parenting time order when the children are outside of the court's reach.

It is a vexsome issue with no easy solution.


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motorboater
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #435019 - 07/31/08 11:05 PM

You know, it's utterly obvious here (and will likely be a big sticking point in court) that you want to move to Norway simply for you.

You're from there, your family is there, your love interest/marriage over here went down the tubes so now you want to return.

Oh, and there's also government healthcare and 5 weeks vacation

But going there is NOT about your kids', their mother's or anyone's interests but your own.

See, kids' interests are to be with you, sure, but to also see mom as much as possible, with you looking out for kids' safety if mom's a risk threat.

Which is enabled either by you staying in Idaho, or everyone, including your ex, moving to Norway (which isn't going to happen.) So stay in Idaho. Sorry, but it's that simple, just not what you want to hear.

And, um, don't expect the suicidal, alcoholic, child-abandoning, misinformed, unstable ex to take to coparenting while you threaten to move her children to Europe. Don't expect much at all. But at least know you aren't helping things by planning your move. Not that its your job to help her anymore, but at least don't be oblivious to how you're hurting her and what's beyond her immediate capabilities.

Welcome to post-divorce parenthood. It ain't about what you want. (if you're up for it...not everyone is...)

I'm not lured by Norway or anything like that, but you think I live where I want to live and have my dream job post-divorce? Nope, I live in my kids school district to facilitate our parenting plan.


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Svein
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: motorboater]
      #435903 - 08/04/08 03:16 PM

Thanks, Motorboater - the opposing view hurts, of course, but is painfully needed.

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suzynj
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Svein]
      #441514 - 08/19/08 05:08 PM

Two things could potentially happen. Your ex will get better, or your ex will get worse. If she gets better, staying here is a good thing. If she gets worse, staying here is a good thing....If eventually it gets so bad that she does not stop drinking, her mental state gets worse, and she is a danger to her children then you can move and she probably won't even contest it. Wait it out, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

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SingleMODad
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: Relayer]
      #450542 - 09/14/08 08:43 PM

Quote:

You have zero chance of removing American citizens (your kids) from American soil.

You getting the hell out might be a good idea though




Did you not read the origional post. The children also have Norwegian Citizenship and were born there (not here) as well as living there for the first few years of their lives. I think this gives them equal rights in either place!


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Maury
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Re: International relocation from Idaho with child [Re: SingleMODad]
      #451024 - 09/15/08 11:44 PM

It makes them citizens in either place. In the eyes of the court, it does not mean they have equal rights to reside in either location. There will be a presumption to maintain the status quo and allow both parents access in the U.S. where they have been residing. That will be difficult to rebut.

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