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LegalEase, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 897
Experience:  Experience in handling divorces, custody issues and child support quandries.
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I live in Los Angeles with my 12 year old son. I have sole

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I live in Los Angeles with my 12 year old son. I have sole physical custody and my ex husband and I have joint legal custody. My ex also lives in Los Angeles 15 minutes away from us We were married for 10 years and he literally walked out one day and never came back, when I told him we were moving back East and I was taking my son he said fine My son was 2 years old at the time and I was so devestated by my ex husband's leaving, that I moved back East for family support. Our divorce decree states that I have sole physical custody and we have joint legal custody. There is nothing in the decree that refers to relocation in the future. When my son turned 6 years old I wanted him to have the opportunity to get to know his father so I moved back to Los Angeles to give his father the opportunity to build a realtionship I had told his father this was temporary and we would not be living in LA forever, but nothing was added to reflect this to the decree at the time. We have no formal arrangement on visitation. My son has always lived with me solely and since we have lived back in LA over the last 7 years his father sees him on average 6 days a month. I am and always have been the main caregiver in every aspect of my son's life. His dad does not take him to the doctor, to sports practices, to tutor etc.. I do everything for my son. It is close to 7 years now that we have been living back in LA my son is now going on 13 and he was 6 when we arrived here. I have been dating the same man for the last 9.5 years that I met back East. He was transferred to Phoenix 2 years in to our relationship and for close to 8 years we have been dating long distance, flying back and forth every or every other week-end in order to accomodate this relationship for my ex husband My son has known my boyfriend since he was a toddler and they are very fond of each other and he is very supportive and loving to my son. My boyfriend and I want to get married and the plan is for my son and I to move to Phoenix this fall before school starts. My son loves his dad and they do have a realtionship. I have talked to my son at length about the move to make sure he is ok with it and to reassure him that he will still see his dad 2 times per month as he does now and can also have long summers with him partial holidays, school breaks etc.. and that via Skype cell phone, e-mails etc.. he will always be in touch with his dad daily. My son is fine with the move and is looking forward to it. I have written my ex a letter notifying him of my future marriage and the move with my son and the reasons why this will be beneficial, I will not have to work, (I have been a single full time working mom since my sone was 2 years old) which means more time to spend with my son and be with him after the bell rings at school, he has cousins in Phoenix (my brother has 2 boys there, my son's age) my boyfriend's family is very clsoe and they live there and family brings such quality to life, we will live in a beautiful home and safe neighborhood with a park across the street, and currently we have been living in a 2 bedroom condo which is nice, but no yard no where to run outside etc.., he can get a better education by being able to go to a private school - currently he has gone to public due to lack of finances and he can build a better realtionship with his son because he can visit him in Phoenix once a month and have one on one time alone with him vs my son competing with his time amongst his other 2 boys he has with his wife
The flight is only one hour and 20 minutes and my son is old enough and very happy to fly on his own to Burbank once a month. It took a week for my ex husband to reply to my letter to him about the move and he said he will not allow it and without his approval I can not move my son out of state and he will not let that happen. In addition to my ex husband's lack of real effort to spend more time with my son all these years we have lived here, he has been out of work at one point for over a year and owes me close to $8000.00 in back child support. He would not branch out of his field at the time to get a job doing anything to bring in money to pay his support and we were almost evicted. I had to borrow money from friends, family, ask my landlord to reduce the rent etc.. I do work full time but this is a very expensive city to live in. When he started working again I gave him time to get on his feet and then told him the back support needed to be paid in full. I even hired my attorney to write him a letter with a demand of response and he never even responded to my attorney. He has been paying me $50 per month for the last year and a half towards that balance, and has made no effort other than that to pay it off and that $50 payment plan was never any kind of agreement between him and I He said it was all he could afford. My question is... the school starts August 9th in Phoenix and I want to move there at end of July, if I file a "Move Away" via the state of California I am afraid the back up in the system will cause the issue to not even be addressed for months and months which means I will have to stay here another year
I can not afford an attorney and frankly I have documents, calendars, e-mails etc.. for the last 6 years that prove I have always been the main caregiver and sole parent so I do not feel I am in jeapordy of losing anything especially it is all documented and factual to everyone we know and also since my son wants to go. I am assuming my ex will be taking me to court which means that my son will most likely have to talk to the judge and he is not happy about this as he feels it is putting him in the middle. I brought this to my ex's attention and he said he doesn't care adn that my son is not moving.
What are my rights and what is the best and most efficient and expedient way to approach getting approvla to move to Phoenix with my son? Can you please help guid me on the next an dmost important steps to take to get a resolution to this problem. I feel like I am a prisoner to my ex husband's wishes Can you please help? Thanks
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  LegalEase replied 7 years ago.
I am afraid the only way you can do this properly is to file to modify the custody order now. Given the reasons for your wanting to move, and the relative closeness, I don't think a Judge would have a problem, however, the only way to make it legal and look the best in the Judge's eyes is to go though the proper channels and file the modification first, before you move. It is just now the beginning of June. It should not take 3 months to get a temporary order in place. Most likely the Judge will order you to mediation as well, which might help your exhusband come around.

The Judge has to act in a manner to protect your son's relationship with his father, but if you can show that the relationship won't be harmed and that the move will be for the best of your child, I think you have a good shot. You just need to go through the proper channels to do so. If your ex won't agree, it will have to go through the court system, no matter how reasonable you or I think you're being.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Please tell me what the exact steps are that I have to do to accomplish what you suggested:

Do I have to hire an attorney to file a modification to the custody?

What exactly is the modification I am asking for? sole custody or relocation?? please explain

Is this something I can file for on my own through the state of California?

If so, where do I get the form who do I contact and how long does it take to get a reply?

Will it be detremental to the status of mu custody if I do not hire an attorney?...I am a single full time working mom struggling financially so hiring attorneys is out of my financial availability

What do you mean by a temporary modification? Does that mean as long as it is filed that I can move since I have addressed it and am making everyone aware?

Please explain what the "proper channels" are?

What happens in mediation? Does my son have to go through an evaluatio and if so is that expensive and who orders that and who has to pay for that?

My son is almost it likely the judge will want to speak with him?


Please be as detailed as possible - Thank you so much


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Are you going to be able to reply withih the next 30 minutes?
Expert:  LegalEase replied 7 years ago.
1. You do not have to hire an attorney.

2. you can find all the forms necessary to file the modification, This is an excellent website with all the instructions you need. You would be modifying the court order to state the new kind of visitation you would wish the ex husband to have. The court order would also be modified to state that it was okay that the child live in Phoneix with you.

3. This is something you can file on your own.

4. You will file your modification of the custody agreement in the same court that the original custody order was decided in. Once you file, you should ask for temporary orders, and this can be done fairly quickly, within a month. I cannot tell you exactly how long it will take because I have no way of knowing how backed up that particular
court's docket is. You can look in your original papers to see what court it was filed in and contact that court to determine the place you file in.

5. Many people choose to represent themselves. If you can't afford an attorney, and don't qualify for legal aid, then the courts will not look down upon you for not being able to hire an attorney. The only reason I would suggest you get an attorney is if your ex husband gets an attorney.

6. When a custody order is modified, or a party askes a person to modify a court order, the Judge will often enter temporary orders. The Judge might allow you to go ahead and move, or the Judge might not.

7. By proper channels, I mean the legal system. You cannot just move without asking the court's permission.

8. Mediation is where both parties can tell both sides of their story and try to reach some sort of compromise without the Judge having to step in and tell everybody what to do.

9. I doubt your son will have to go through an evaluation, or that the Judge will want to talk to him. Judges realize that children can often be manipulated in to prefering one parent or the other so the child's actual opinion on the matter is vary rarely called for in court.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank you so much...

Just one more area for clarification regarding an attorney and then I will be finished:


1. My ex owes me over $8000 in unpaid child support..won't that look bad in court to the judge if he can afford to pay an attorney for his case and yet not keep good on his financial responsibility to his son's well being per the court order?


2. Based on the back support owed...could I request my ex to pay for my attorney fees


3 When you recommended I hire an attorney, if my ex has hired an attorney, that because of the attorney's expertise of the law and his ability to use legal terms, cases etc.. against me that I would nbot be aware of, in order to gain custody over me


4. My ex is only paying me $50 a month toward the $8000 back support he owes (with no finance charges either) This amount was never agreed upon by me, it was all he said he could afford to pay per month, even after I hired the attorney to write the letter stating he needs to pay the balance due now, he never responded At that point I never put a lien on his house or garnished wages or suspended his license etc... because he has 2 other little boys and he is not financially solid and I did not want to jeopardize those kids' well being Also, it would be hard for my son to know I put his dad and family in jeopardy. Do you recommend it is time for me to take action for that money now? if so will it be a positive or negative effect to proceed with that now, since I am going to file a motion for modification? What is the best way to go about petitioning for the balance due that may not be as hurtful to his family?

Expert:  LegalEase replied 7 years ago.
1. Yes, it will make him look bad. The fact that he is behind on child support is definitely in your favor.

2. You can request that he pay attorney fees, yes.

3. Yes, that is why you should hire an attorney if your ex hires an attorney.

4. Even once the arreage is confirmed through the court system, it is unlikely that a Judge would order him to pay the balance due at once. The judge would probably put him on some sort of payment plan, similar to what he's already doing, $50-$100 on top of his current obligation. If he is paying child support right now, and is paying $50 on top of that, it is unlikely that a Judge will further punish him, other than possibly raising the amount of his payment of the arreage. However, if he is not currently paying anything current, or on the arreage then yes, you can file contempt charges.

You can file both at the same time, however it might be beneficial to use not pursuing his back child support as a bargaining chip to convince him to let you move. But again, I don't see a Judge ordering him to pay the entire arrearage at once. He, if not paying any support at all, would face consequences such as loosing his license, or having his wages garnished for the current amount due monthly and the payment on the arrrearage.
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