Modification Case After Custodial Parent Relocated to Another State

Robert came to me in May 2019, some three months after his ex-wife, Tawny had relocated to Michigan with their two minor children based on a job promotion.  The two of them had discussed the relocation before the fact, but they had done nothing formal to modify the divorce orders.

Robert loves his children and spends as much time with them as he could when they all lived in Georgia.  But with his heavy work schedule and because he believed Tawny was a good mother, he was willing to allow them to relocate to Michigan without objection, so long as he was able to regularly communicate with the children by telephone and that he would have a lot of time with them in the summers and other longer vacation periods from school, which Tawny ostensibly was in agreement with. 

However, within a couple of weeks after the relocation, Robert was unable to reach the children or Tawny on the telephone.  This persisted for weeks.  The week the kids were to come to be with their father in Georgia when school was released for the summer came and went, without him being able to see the children. 

Within a week of hiring me, we had filed the Modification action and had her served with the petition. The petition was aggressive and sought various remedies, from simply a modified visitation schedule to a change in physical custody.  To Tawny’s credit, she retained experienced counsel and her lawyer reached out to me soon after she was served. 

Because Robert recognized that he could not be the full-time care giver for the two children, and because he still believed Tawny was a good mother, from the beginning he told me that he did not seriously intend on fighting for primary physical custody.  Without much ado, we were able to resolve the case with a modified order that gave Robert up to seven weeks in the summer, every spring break, and alternating halves of Christmas break, and the option for one weekend a month in Michigan, and with regular telephone contact.  I also secured for Robert a substantial downward modification of his child support obligation based on the expenses associated with the exercise of his visitation rights over long distance, and Tawny agreed to pay 50% of Robert’s attorney’s fees.  Robert’s total cost in this case was $2,400.00.