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International relocation- temporary

Hi!

Firstly a bit of background.  My Ex Husband and I have a 5 year old daughter who we share care of.  At the moment it's 3 nights with her Dad and 4 nights with me.  This arrangement has only been in place for a couple of months and has changed quite a few times since we first separated due to his work commitments.  There have also been periods of time when he has been unable to care for her at all, and I have had her for up to six weeks straight with very limited contact with him. I was at first reluctant for our daughter to be away for three nights at a time as I've always been the primary care-giver but I agreed to give it a go and see if she was happy, which she mostly is I think.  I have re-partnered and we are expecting a baby in a few weeks.  My daughter is very excited about this and has said she would like to be here with us a bit more when her sister arrives, which my ex seems okay with.  We have no formal agreements in place, although we did attend mediation when we first separated.  After a rough start things are relatively amicable between us and we are doing pretty well at co-parenting our gorgeous girl and there is no conflict at all.  He's a good Dad and our daughter loves him very much.

This is my dilemma.  There is a very good chance that my partner will have the opportunity to go and work in Honolulu (we are currently on the Sunshine Coast in Qld) at the end of the year.  It wouldn't be a permanent thing, maybe 2-3 years.  The money on offer is ridiculously good, I'm talking four times what he's earning here, and it would set us up financially for the future.  If I didn't have my ex and my daughter's relationship with him to think of we would go at the drop of a hat (my ex and I lived in 5 different countries together before we separated) but obviously it's not that easy!

To be honest, I doubt that my ex would agree to let me move there, even if wasn't going to be a permanent move.  He is not a particularly agreeable person at the best of times and still harbours quite a lot of bitterness towards me (thankfully for our daughter's sake he has learnt to keep this to himself), and of course he wouldn't want our daughter to live away from him.  So I suspect that if I wanted to go it would involve a court decision, which would be pretty traumatic for everyone involved I imagine, and not something that I would want to do unless absolutely necessary.  I am wondering if anyone can tell me what the likelihood would be of a court granting me permission to relocate would be?  I would offer for my partner and I to pay for our daughter to fly back to Australia for visits at least four times a year (with me and her baby sister accompanying her to visit family too) for at least 2 weeks at a time (during Hawaiian school holidays) and longer over the summer break (winter here), and of course my ex would be welcome to come to see our daughter in Honolulu. We already use Skype regularly, so that would be another way of maintaining the relationship.

Obviously, if I were not able to relocate with my daughter then I wouldn't be going at all.  

The other option would be for my partner to go on his own and come back here every three weeks or so, and for us to go over there every couple of months as well.  Although this could work, it would mean that the financial benefits of the job would be impacted on pretty negatively by the need to pay for a lot more flights and also to run two homes, one here and one there.  It would also mean that my partner would miss out on our baby's first few years of growing up.

I guess I just want some advice really.  Is it worth going to court and risking losing, and in the process creating more negativity, animosity and conflict when things have been quite settled and amicable?  Either way one of my kids will miss out on time with their Dad, but which is the lesser of two evils?  

Of course, the third option is for my partner to not take the job at all, but as it's with the company he works for here on the Coast and his job here may not even exist once the Hawaii side of the business kicks off, he might just end up with no job at all (it's slim pickings here on the Coast :-(  ) and due to some pretty severe financial setbacks including major health problems and me incurring a property debt to ensure the sale of the ex-marital home we really need to get a head financially and also just have some financial stability.  

Thanks in advance  :)
Do you have to go to court? Have you spoken to the father at all about the options available? You have to go to mediation first anyway so maybe talking to the father is the first step.

"When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure"
I haven't spoken to him about it yet, no.  It's still not definite at this stage and I guess I am just trying to figure it out in my head a bit before I approach him.  As I said though, I think the chances of him agreeing to it are pretty much non-existent, although I could be wrong…I guess I just want to know whether I'd have any chance of actually being able to relocate with my daughter IF it did go to court, you know, just back up for if and when I do have that conversation with my ex.  Historically, his reaction has been to say no to pretty much every request I've put to him, even pretty minor things.

I didn't realise that you had to do mediation prior to seeking permission to relocate, so that is something that is good to know.  Thanks, Gecko.
An application through the court to relocate can take a year or more if the parties cannot reach an agreement. The period can be very stressful and very costly. A fairly normal application, if you do not self litigate, will probably cost in the order of $20k+. In your case I doubt you will be able to apply for an interim order as well.
Hi and thanks Larissap and Me-Dad.

Larissa, I know I might cop some flack, but it's just so hard sometimes to know what's the right thing to do.  I absolutely don't want to deprive my daughter of a relationship with her Dad (and I don't really think I would be anyway if we did relocate).  And this isn't just something I have decided to do on a whim.  It's a once in a lifetime opportunity (or maybe once in a hundred lifetimes!) and there are so many good reasons to pursue it and only one for not…My partner and I are trying to negotiate things with his employer which would make it all a bit less scary, ie just for 12 months or something.  

Me_Dad, that's good to know.  It sounds pretty daunting to be honest, and why I would be hesitant to go down that avenue if I could avoid it.  All good food for thought….
Electroquill,

From an external perspective, is it reasonable to expect the childs father to agree to diminish his contact (& thus his relationship) with his child because of your lifestyle aspirations? I assume he is paying you CS. If you reduce his contact to 0% then his CS will increase.
Is it reasonable to expect him to agree to this also? You are asking a lot of this person. To give up contact with his child during the years when the child will develop bonds with people, and to increase his financial contribution for a child he wont see.
I know this overseas move is in your best interests, but is it in the best interests of the child?

If the money is so ridiculously good, why doesnt your new  partner fly home 4 times a year for 2 week duration and again over summer break? You have said this is the arrangement you would offer to your ex. Is it good for the gander too?

I say all this from the perspective of being denied access to children and having to spend $5K in court to get time with them reinstated. The OP reason was similar to yours-just a lifestyle choice they wanted to follow, but they failed to consider the damage to the childs relationships if denied regular/equal time with both parents.

This is not a personal attack on you, just a perspective that the court may consider if you take it that far.
BDouble said
If the money is so ridiculously good, why doesnt your new  partner fly home 4 times a year for 2 week duration and again over summer break? You have said this is the arrangement you would offer to your ex. Is it good for the gander too?

Personally I do not think that is really a fair or valid comment, although I understand were you are coming from. You are asking her to give up her relationship with her partner and her partner with his newborn? Won't that result in an even worse case scenario? Two wrongs can never make a right.

BDouble said
I assume he is paying you CS. If you reduce his contact to 0% then his CS will increase.
Is it reasonable to expect him to agree to this also? You are asking a lot of this person. To give up contact with his child during the years when the child will develop bonds with people, and to increase his financial contribution for a child he wont see.

His time will be greatly diminished but it can still be around 25% based on 50% of holidays

Electroquill, your choice to move will have an impact on time spent with, but I do agree with BDouble somewhat in terms of child support. You should consider the option of not increasing his child support and he should not be liable for other expenses, ie. schooling (private), medical insurance, etc. which results due to your decisions.

You do not appear to be a vindictive type of person with a hidden agenda. Based on the information that you provided in your initial writing I would like to think that you have a better than 60% chance, should you go to court. Relocations have been allowed to proceed for far less compelling reasons than your own. Your history is prove that you are more than willing to facilitate a meaningful relationship between your daughter and her dad and that will count.   

Another perspective…. ;) should you be interested….The Australian economy is not in such a good position as we think it is. We are heading towards a slowdown with a deepening crises in Europe and the US economy not being able to stand up. The Chinese economy is also weakening. Our own "housing bubble" has come to an end with a drop of 4.5% (national average) for the year so far on top of a fairly flat 2011. Depending on your mortgage interest rate you are most likely down 11% by now if you had bought a house the beginning of 2011. Most share markets are copping it at the moment, including the ASX. If you consider the above then a four fold increase in salary for your partner will be a really great boost.
My husband had his ex move half way across the state. Any move that impacts on the time the child spends with both parents is really not in the best interest of the child. It has been 3 years plus since the move, and Skype and regular phonecalls in NO way make up for not being able to spend time with the child. We see the child every three months and believe me, it is heart wrenching to see the impact it has. Just my view.
Thanks everyone for your input.  

BDouble, my ex does not pay any child support, we have a private arrangement although technically he's meant to and I certainly wouldn't want a penny out of him if we were to move away.  As I mentioned in my first post, the dilemma was which child should miss out on time with their Dad, my eldest daughter or our newborn.  As my older daughter has a strong established bond with her Dad I see her having lesser time with him as the lesser of two evils.  My partner and our baby have not had the time to bond yet, and as it is in the first three years of a child's life that the strong bonds between parents and children are formed it is pretty vital that they spend as much time together as possible.

Anyhow, after careful consideration and having gotten an emphatic NO from my ex, we've decided that we can't face the legal battle…….
Scribe17 said

Anyhow, after careful consideration and having gotten an emphatic NO from my ex, we've decided that we can't face the legal battle…….
A properly worded application offering appropriate contact for your ex should have a good chance of getting up. You are not going for more than two to three years. I think the lesser of the two options is that the current partner needs to form a bond with the new child and that won't happen through infrequent trips back to AU by the father. Have you considered the 5 yo staying here and commuting for total time in all school holiday breaks with accompanied travel. Is that an option to work through? You could assist financially as much additional money is available, no child support options offer? Skype video regularly (not a substitute for contact says Boots).

These are the absolute hardest cases to work through. Mum and new partner have a real opportunity to get ahead with additional money and promotion opportunity. Daughter (5) has an opportunity for overseas travel and education for a time in a different country which should be beneficial. Father stands to loose substantial contact for up to three years. Courts have considered these sorts of cases and at the end of the day the primary consideration falls to the Best Interests of the Child. The court might consider the best interest of the child are to have a period overseas and work that around 65DAA and consider how practical time could be effected with the father.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Have you thought about how you would feel if the role was reversed and your ex wanted your daughter to move away with him. Would you understand, would you agree. Perhaps that's the alternative - if you think it is reasonable then perhaps your daughter can stay with her Dad and you can be the one to fly back and visit her. If that doesn't sound reasonable then maybe you shouldn't expect him to agree to it. No being personal, just looking at it from the other side.
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