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Noncustodial father concerned about mother's frequent job travel, he wants to get custody

Your Question:
I have a 7 year old boy by my first wife. We were divorced four and a half years ago and I have joint legal custody and joint physical custody. My ex is the primary care giver and my visitation is limited to Wednesday nights and every other weekend (mediation). I also get him 2 weeks in the summer and we share holidays. My goal is to get custody of my son or to at least get awarded substantially more visitation. My ex has been gone out of state working about 50% of the time since our divorce. She is an on-air anchor. My son spends that time mostly at my house or my parent's house (sometimes with sitters or his other grandmother who lives out of state). It's been hard on him. My ex is now threatening to move out of town for work. Ironically, she feels she's sacrificed her career for my son's benefit long enough (by sacrificing, she means keeping her residence in town near me). I'm remarried with a 19 month old girl that my son adores. They love their time together.

I'm not sure if I have a chance for full custody but that would be in his best interest in my opinion. The absenteeism is a clear problem. There are others that I think might be significant but won't touch on for now. Also, Ex is currently unemployed except for some limited consulting work she does out of state. Do you advise going for custody? What would be my chances? Best to go for more visitation - but would it do any good if she leaves town? Thanks so much.

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My Answer:

Unfortunately, you probably missed the boat on "Mom is gone 50% of the time". She's currently unemployed and presumably at home most of the time now. Where's your argument in current time?

However, if she's going into the same line of work, where she'll be out of the home half the time, you have an argument that yours is the more appropriate home for the child.

You haven't outlined any reason why it should not remain joint custody, which keeps both parents significantly involved in raising the child and making decisions for the child.

I think -- if the mother will CONTINUE to be away from home, that would constitute a significant change of circumstance.

So, you'd seek to change the parenting plan where the child is with you far more than currently, which allows the mother to travel for her job, and which provides the child with consistent parenting. Keep custody joint.

If the mother is going to move, the court is forced to decide on what is the best scenario for the child. Usually, barring any convincing evidence to the contrary, a court assumes that the parent who has mostly been taking care of the child should continue to do so. Convincing evidence to the contrary could include bad faith (i.e., the moving parent intends to push the other parent out of the kid's life, the kid is vehemently opposed to moving for valid reasons, etc). As you elected not to provide any details of the other problems, I'm limited in my response.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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