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.