We moved to Germany three years ago for my husband’s job. It was supposed to be a one-year contract, but he has continued to renew it against my wishes. My career has been on hold since our move as I cannot work in Germany. Our visas expire on Dec.31. Our daughter should start first grade in September, but he will not let us come home. I have a job waiting for me in Massachusetts and I refused to re-rent our home which will be vacated in the end of July.
I don’t want to stay in Germany. Six months ago, my husband moved out of our rental home and stopped paying for everything. We got evicted and my parents have been paying for us to stay in a hotel. He withdrew all the money in our joint account and took my name off our joint credit cards. I am beginning to worry he will renew our daughter’s visa but not mine so I will have to leave and he gets custody by default.
I told him we were going home but he threatened to get a court order holding our passports so we cannot leave. Can I get a custody order in Massachusetts and use it to leave?
The better route is to get a lawyer in Germany and an emergency order of custody with permission to return home. Right now, your daughter has been out of Massachusetts more than six months so, unless she is physically back here, no orders will be issued here. Gather as much evidence as you can about the temporary nature of your family’s relocation to Germany including your husband’s initial job contract, any emails or texts between you and your husband where you state you want to go home, the lease for your home in Massachusetts and your job offer letter.
Also show the judge whatever evidence you have that your husband abandoned you and your daughter, moved out of the home, allowed you to get evicted, refuses to pay support so that your parents are now paying for you to live in a hotel. While I do not practice in Germany, I cannot imagine you will be ordered to stay.
Then, as soon as you are back in Massachusetts file for an emergency order of custody for your daughter. While she has been out of Massachusetts more than six months, it sounds as though Massachusetts remains her domicile and habitual residence. Argue you need Massachusetts to take emergency jurisdiction because of his actions in Germany.
If you ultimately leave without permission, expect your husband will file a petition alleging you wrongfully removed your daughter from Germany. So, begin to prepare your defense immediately. In addition to the other evidence, get proof you remained registered to vote here, your driver’s license remains here, you continued to file tax returns here, you are still a member of a church, etc.