I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your dilemma.
You have the ability to file a response to the divorce Complaint, explaining why it is in the best interests of the children to live with you overseas full-time rather than spending any time with their father. Cal. Family Code, Section 3040 provides that judges should when possible order shared custody of children. The same statute also says that the judge cannot decide custody based on the sex of the parent requesting it. That means you need to be able to show why it's in the best interests of the children not to have any relationship with their father. Usually, that is going to require showing one of the following:
- That the father has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, or an ongoing problem with either such that he presents a danger to the children.
- That the father has a mental illness that leaves him unfit to parent.
- That the father has a physical disability making him incapable of caring for a child.
- That the father has a history of violence or child abuse, such that he presents a danger to the children.
- Any other fact that shows the children are not safe with their father.
Essentially, you have to show that he's such an unfit parent that he should never be able to spend time with the children alone and should have to come visit you in order to see them (or never see them at all). The judge could order you to share the costs of his travel to wherever you're living, since he wouldn't have hotel expenses if the children were to stay with him at his home.
It would probably be easiest to hire a lawyer in the county where the children live, because flying back and forth to go to court could get expensive. A good place to find reviews from former clients is www.martindale.com. If you prefer to fill out forms and mail them to the court yourself (make sure you give yourself plenty of time), the court has forms available on their website. If you've agreed that your husband will file first, you don't need to do anything until he serves you with the forms.
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