Geographical Restrictions Results
Facts: Mom “just” wanted to move the child over 3 hours away to rural Oklahoma because she had reunited with an old HS boyfriend online and wanted to live where he was, which would have meant my Dad client would have lost all his Thursday nites and never get a chance to have lunch with his son at school, attend school plays, sporting events, etc.
At trial, Mom insisted on the Judge interviewing the child and, since he was 12, the Judge had to do so even though he warned the parties he had no interest in it because he was not going to let a child dictate where he lived. Apparently it backfired, however, because the child told the judge he did not want to move to Oklahoma. So that, combined with my cross examination of Mom which showed quite a few discrepancies between her deposition and trial testimony and several flaws in her rationale for moving, resulted in the Judge letting us know he was ready to rule without me even having to call my Dad client to testify.
Result: In addition to denying her request to move the child’s residence to Oklahoma, the Judge granted us our two requests to modify certain other aspects of the order and also awarded us a judgment for over $10,000.00 in attorney’s fees against Mom.(!) (The Judge didn’t appreciate that Mom had bought property there and committed to the boyfriend BEFORE she got permission from the Court to move instead of after.)
If you have a relocation issue, give my office a call and let’s see if I can help you with it!
-Jon R Boyd
Issue: My Client, the Father, asked for the Court to order his two children moved back to Texas after their 3 year absence and residence in another state resulting when Mom legally moved them away.
Facts: In their divorce, the children’s residence with Mom was restricted to Tarrant and Dallas Counties as long as Dad lived in that same restricted area. After Dad failed to pay attention to his Decree and unwittingly moved out of Tarrant and Dallas Counties into a neighboring county and the restriction was lifted, Mom seized the opportunity and quickly moved the parties’ two young boys from DFW to the State of Washington. Dad further compounded his error by failing to act for the first eight months after the move, then finally hired me in the hope I could get them back.
We filed a Petition to Modify to seek a return of the boys’ residence to DFW. The first battle was interstate jurisdiction, since the boys had lived in Washington state for about a year at that point, but I was successful in persuading the Court to retain jurisdiction here. The next battle was temporary hearing, which was difficult because we had to prove ‘significant impairment’ in order to get the boys back at that stage, and the Court ruled against us on that. We then set the case for final trial before a Jury; however, in the meantime, the sitting Judge was ousted in the election and a new Judge came in. After meeting with the new judge, both sides agreed to waive a jury and try the case to the Judge.
Result: After a lengthy final trial involving thousands of pages of exhibits and numerous witnesses, the new Judge ruled in Dad’s favor and ordered the return of the boys to DFW, despite Mom and step-dad and the boys having lived in Washington at that point for almost three years. (!). This is a significant decision and very unusual!
Issue: Dad decided to seek Modification of Prior Divorce Decree to Impose Geographical Restriction and keep Mom from moving the child to Tennessee.
Facts: Both parties were from another state (about 12 hours drive from Texas) but had moved to Texas in the early 2000’s. After living in Texas for few years, Dad and Mom divorced three years ago. At the time of the divorce, Mom wanted to return to the former state of residence with the child, Dad wanted to stay here. The parties compromised and settled in mediation for Mom staying in Texas for three more years. After the three years elapsed, Mom said she was returning to the former state. Dad hired me to modify the Decree to keep the geographical restriction in place permanently.After a temporary hearing where the Judge ordered the child to remain in Texas pending final trial, Mom demanded a Jury trial for final hearing.
Result: In a unanimous verdict, the jury found, as we requested for Dad, that there had been a material and substantial change in circumstances to justify modifying the Decree now to impose a restriction on the child’s residence and that doing so would be in the child’s best interest. As a result, the Decree was modified to impose a geographical restriction on the child’s residence to Collin County and surrounding counties.
Issue: Mother requested jury trial in an attempt to persuade the jury to allow her to move the parties’ child to the foreign country where she was from.
Result: Won jury trial. Father was awarded joint custody and the jury denied his ex-wife’s request to move the child out of the country.