I have had joint legal custody of my 8 year old daughter, since I filed for divorce when she was 4 months old. I have had her every other weekend, Thursdays and Fridays on the weeks in between, and in addition, each summer a full 7 day week for the months of June, July and August .
For the last three years, I have gone to have lunch with her at school, approximately 20-30 times each school year, and I have not missed a night of calling to tell her goodnight, since she was old enough to speak, or comprehend it was her father on the phone.
When I filed for divorce, I was working on my associates degree. In about 9 months I will have my Ph.D. in Health Psychology.
My relationship with my daughter is very close. She and her mother
have lived in the same town as I, since 2006 (when Chloe was 3 years old) when her mother and I got back together for about two years.
In terms of her memory is concerned, Chloe tells me she does not remember living anywhere else than in the town she does now, and having been here since she was 3, this is where all of her friends are. All of her extended family is within a 30 mile radius, and all of them on my side, live here in the same town of Trenton, Mo.
The divorce agreement states that my ex-wife (primary) cannot move from the state of Missouri with her. However, Chloe has informed me that the man her mother is dating, and her mother, have talked of building a house, some 3 1/2 hours away, and moving there. To skirt the "can't go out of state" issue (he lives in Kansas) they are talking of building just across the state line, on the Missouri side, in Harrisonville, Mo.
My daughter has told me she does not want to move, and that she has told her mother she does not want to move, as all of her friends and family are here, and she would not be able to see me as often as she has for her entire life.
Is there any strategy I can use, or any legal provision that would feasibly prevent her mother moving that far away with our daughter, or change the custody arrangement (making me primary)?
I live in a small community of 6,000 people, where, while perhaps it should not matter, I have found that being from here, can matter, when going to court. My ex-wife was not from here, and thus, in our divorce, I had the "homefield" advantage, which did seem to make a difference in the outcome of the custody case. The judge who ruled on our divorce and custody, is still in the seat, and he remembers all too well, my ex-wife's antics. She called him at home one night while the case was going on, wanting to "talk confidentially" with her, file three false restraining orders
against me (which he tossed out immediately and chastised her in court for abusing the system), and was seeking to not allow me to see my daughter, at all, if possible. In addition, the first attorney she had hired, removed herself from the case, early on, due to the erratic behavior of my ex-wife.
I would appreciate any guidance about what I might be able to do, and, while I know that no one can predict, a rough idea of how successful I may, or may not, be.