Q: My daughter's father says he will not let her move out of state with me to pursue my Master's degree. What can I do?
I am about to graduate with my bachelor's degree and have begun applying to graduate programs. My 10-year-old daughter's father says he will never let her move out of state with me, not even to pursue educational and career advancement. I think it would be a good opportunity for her to experience life in a new way and have some new life experiences. She is quite emotionally conflicted because he has been telling her that he is going to take me to court. I am an exceptional student. I am involved in many clubs and organizations, I volunteer, I am on the Dean's List, a McNair Scholar, have presented research at conferences, I sit on the University Judicial Board and was recently appointed to the Administrative Panel. I am engaged to a registered nurse who holds two degrees. Her father received his GED in 2006 while we were still a couple. No custody agreement, but he pays me $110 per month as unordered child support. He is married but has not had a job in over four years.
A: The answer is complicated and very fact driven. Missouri laws address the relocation of a child, but it discusses your obligations as the proposed moving parent in terms of giving notice to "any party with custody or visitation rights." Since your question referred to "unordered child support" I assume that Father's custody rights have not been adjudicated either. That is going to be a problem for him when he tries to prevent a move, but of course it doesn't prevent him from now filing suit in court to get court order custody or visitation rights.
However, sometimes the best approach is to see what agreements can be made so that you can accomplish your goals and your child can still see her Father. Even though he is saying he will never let you move out of state, neither one of you can probably make that decision until you both gather more information about your rights, obligations and possible options. I suggest consulting with a family law attorney so that he or she can gather more facts, review your options and help you proceed in the best way that will keep the conflict low.
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