Child custody disputes when parents are in two different states are challenging. This is especially true when the child is young and cannot travel alone. The factors of distance and travel make the court’s determination of what is in the child’s best interest particularly difficult.
The custody battle involving the Olympic skier, Bode Miller, highlights some of the issues courts face in these cases. If you pick up any newspaper you will read conflicting facts, the accuracy of which will need to be determined by the court. These conflicting facts include the following: The mother of Miller’s child moved to New York while she was pregnant. Miller charged that she made the move to find a sympathetic court. The mother stated that she moved to attend Columbia University and to get a free Ivy League education. She claims Miller wanted nothing to do with the child when he found out she was pregnant. Miller has a child by another woman. He has filed paternity actions in both cases. The court is faced with a number of unique issues, including where Miller lives (allegedly on a yacht) and whether he has substance abuse problems.
The court must consider the above issues as well as the reasons for relocation, the quality of the relationships and attachment to the child, the impact of the move on the quality of the relationships with the non custodial parent and the extended family, the effect on the custodial parents life as a result of the move and the possibility of preserving a relationship with the non custodial parent, the good faith of the parent in moving and in opposing the move, and the benefits for the child of the move- emotionally, financially and economically.
The court must also consider which parent has the child’s best interests at heart. Consider, for example ,the allegations in the papers, that while the mother calls him Sam, Miller calls him Nate. If true, it’s hard to see how this kind of tug-of-war benefits the child in any way. The court must also determine the accuracy of the allegations that the child has only been able to see his mother for a brief period since October 1st because the child has been with Miller while he has traveled around the world.
This case raises additional issues regarding which state’s court has jurisdiction over the child’s custody. The child’s residence usually determines where the case should be brought. Here, the mother brought the case in New York, which is where the child was born. The various newspapers allege that the New York court was upset with the mother, however, because it learned that she moved from California while she was pregnant, and awarded the child to Miller, creating the unusual situation of taking into account where the child lived before birth. After an appeal, the court gave the child back to the mother. The case is now set for another trial.
For attorneys that can help you with difficult child custody cases as well as relocation cases, call Paule, Camazine and Blumenthal, PC.