Ex Can’t Afford To Fly Child Home After Visitation

Goldberg Jones Child Custody Leave a Comment

Following divorce, custody and visitation tend to be tricky. And that’s in the best circumstances. Even if you and your ex live in the same city, scheduling, transportation, parsing out holidays, and the rest gets messy and convoluted. When you live in different cities or states, it often turns into a logistical nightmare.

That’s assuming both parents are willing and able to play ball and comply with court-ordered parenting plans. What if, after a visitation in another state, your ex can’t or won’t return your child? It may sound like the stuff of TV melodrama, but it happens, intentional or not.

Our founding partner, Rick Jones, makes regular appearances on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show, where he answers family law questions from listeners. One recent caller is experiencing just this situation. His son in California is going through a divorce. The wife and mother of his child lives in Washington. The child came up for a scheduled visit, but the ex claims she can’t afford to fly their child back home. What can he do?

Listen to the Answer Below:

Caller: “My son lives in California and he is going through a divorce. His wife moved to Washington. Their divorce is final June 1st. However, they have a four-year-old daughter and in their divorce papers, it says he has her throughout the year and then sends her up here to stay with her mom during school breaks and certain holidays, one of which is right now. She’s supposed to go home on Sunday, but the mom says she has no money to send her back.”

Danny: “Do you believe that that’s real or that she’s just saying that because she’s still mad at him?”

Caller: “I’d say it’s a little of both. This was the first time my granddaughter flew here to Washington. She’s too young to fly solo, so we can’t resolve it with sending her down on her own.”

Rick’s Advice:

Rick: “This is a classic case of ‘pick your battle and set the next one up.’ Their case isn’t even done yet, so we don’t have a final order that’s yet enforceable by the court. There may be a temporary order in place that says, ‘This is what mom is supposed to do.’

“But here’s what you want to do. Cover the cost of getting the daughter back this time, because this issue is going to come up again in June for summer break.

“So at that point, with an enforceable court order, then the question is, ‘So I allow this?’ If she’s saying, ‘I don’t have the money to send for her,’ then the answer is, ‘Well, okay, then keep the daughter here.’

“If the mom says, ‘Okay, bring her up there and I promise you I’ll pay to send her back.’ Then if the same thing happens again in August, well at that point you again cover the cost to bring her back, but you now have the ability [to enforce the order] given by the court.

“Let’s say the next school break is Thanksgiving. You can say, ‘We now have a two-time history of this person being unwilling, or allegedly unable to pay for the transportation.’ So you can argue not to send the child there anymore.”

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