Q. When my Ex-wife and I got divorced, our children were 6 and 8. Now they are 11 and 13. I live in Colorado and do not see them much. I have them for the first three weeks of July every year and half the other school vacations.
I have been asking my Ex to let the girls spend the whole summer with me for the last two years. She consistently turns me down. On top of that, my brother and his family live in Japan and I really want to take the girls to visit him. My Ex refuses to let me travel outside the country insisting I will not bring them back. There is no rational basis for her claim. I am a self-employed equine veterinarian – not an easily transportable vocation.
After my three weeks, my Ex usually enrolls the girls in sleep away camp for the entire month of August so she can work. Of course I pay half of the camp costs. So, there is no good reason they cannot just stay with me all summer. And letting them stay with me saves her money.
What are my options?
You can file a complaint for modification asking the judge to let your children spend the entire summer with you but for the first week after school gets out and the last week before school resumes. In that way your Ex still has two solid weeks with them and can take them away if she chooses. The fact that your children are now 5 years older is a material change in circumstances and lets the judge change the order. The fact that they attend sleep away camp for a month speaks to their maturity and ability to be away from their parents for long stretches.
Your biggest hurdle is timing. By the time you hire a lawyer, file the complaint, wait for a summons to be issued by the court, have your Ex served it will probably be June (depending on which county your Ex and children live in some counties take far longer to issue summonses than others).
When you file the complaint you should also file a motion for temporary orders to permit the increased time with your girls this summer and get a hearing date as early as possible. Also include a motion for permission to travel abroad with them this summer. Be sure to include in your motion that Japan has now signed the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This, along with your ties to Colorado, should give the judge confidence in your likelihood of returning as scheduled.
Do not be shocked if you get a vacation in Japan but not the whole summer this year. It is unusual for a judge to make the ultimate decision on a temporary order. But, sometimes you get lucky and the judge is willing to call it as s/he sees it leading to a prompt resolution of the entire case.