Blueprint for a Move-Away Case
By Jennifer Jackson, JD (Family Law News, Vol. 18, No. 2)
As I go to court, I wonder
What went wrong with our deal
- a deal that was so right!
For years I've seen the kids
On weekends - so much we've done together
She just moves for spite!
She's a-movin' to LA
Gonna takes my kids away
Wishin' she'd do right by me
And end this misery...and I wonder
She'd move away
And I wonder...where she will stay
That nasty move-away...move-move-move-move-moveaway
As we go to court, I wonder
Why you can't see my way
A way that is so right!
"Best interest" is the test
You know you - can't get your act together
Don't you try to fight!
I'm a-movin' to LA
(Yeah, yeah) Gonna take the kids away
Good for me is good for them
They'll come back now and then...and I wonder
I can't have my way
And I wonder...why I should stay
I want to move away...move-move-move-move-moveaway.
By Dennis Rothhaar, Alameda County, as performed by his popular singing group "The Pro Bono Players", set to the tune of a semi-recognizable 50's standard. Yes, they are available for OSCs, bifurcations, and MSA signing ceremonies.
What are my chances of being allowed to move with my child? Family Law's $64,000 question: can you really answer it for your client for anything less? Is there any way to predict the answer? Can you make sense of the plethora of cases? Are courts as irrational as they seem [for example, a recent order blocking a soon-to-be mom's move? Apparently, the court in Muraido v. McDonald 95D-0079456 had no problem overriding mom's constitutional right to travel so long as she was carrying the fetus, never mind the troublesome questions raised vis a vis abortion rights.]
Discretion - The Name of the Game
Family Code section 3040 "allows the court and the family the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child." Therefore, a trial court's case-by-case analysis is generally affirmed by appellate courts, who "cannot micromanage the custodial status of minor children who are subject to the lower court's jurisdiction in move away cases. A high degree of deference must, thus, be accorded to the exercise of the latter's wide discretion." In re Marriage of Seltzer (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 637, 647.
Discretion rules supreme. The only recent case to reverse a trial court, In re Marriage of Burgess (1995) 32 Adv Cal.App.4th 1786), has just been taken up for review by the California Supreme Court. Hopefully, the California Supremes will clarify things for us; until now, the California Supreme Court and the Legislature have declined to provide guidelines, and appellate courts have not given trial courts a uniform approach, set of criteria or fundamental presumptions from which a "moveaway" inquiry must start.
Trusting that what they do will not completely upend what identifiable trends and shared factors have been announced by the various California appellate districts and other states, this article will guide the moveaway parent through the process and take the position that once necessity has been shown, the analysis begins from the standpoint that the move is a fait accompli. Reflecting reality, "mom" is the moving parent and "dad" is the staybehind parent.
A More Permissive Amosphere is Developing
1986 through 1992 was the heyday of joint/equal custody theoretical development, which is reflected in case law requiring custodial parents to remain in the vicinity of noncustodial parents in order to insure "frequent and continuing contact".
However, the post-1992 "move-away" cases reflect a more pragmatic analysis of a) the realities of an increasingly mobile society and the collapsing job market, b) significant growth in non-standard family structures, and c) a growing concern among mental health professionals about - and recent studies showing - the negative effect of joint custody in high conflict situations.
These recent cases uniformly support a moving parent's ability to move so long as the move is necessary / essential/ imperative [and not merely "convenient", if Burgess holds up]. They uniformly acknowledge that, as stated in In re Marriage of Selzer (1994) 29 Cal. App.4th 637, 646: in our mobile society, economic necessity often dictates that custodial or noncustodial parents, in improving their economic lot, must change their residences during their child's minority. We recognize that this fact of modern life necessarily will effect changes in the nature and extent of continuing contact with the children by the noncustodial parent who must move or who must remain situate in the locale from which the custodial parent must move.
Blueprint for the moving parent
Step 0ne: Give at Least Three Months' Notice
[Note: A frustrating reality is that bad citizenship often succeeds. When mom and little Tommy have split for Milwaukee, it is difficult for dad to undo if he doesn't know quite what to do or doesn't do it fast enough. This article takes the high road, trusting that courts will look more favorably on the litigant who actually asks permission.]
The decision to allow a parent to change a child's residence is: one of the most serious decisions a family law court is required to make. It should not be made in haste. The best interests of the children require that competing claims be considered in a calm, dispassionate manner and only after the parties have had an opportunity to be meaningfully heard. In re Marriage of McGuinness, (1992), 7 Cal.App.4th 473, 477.
If it is at all possible, dad must have "adequate notice, a meaningful mediation, and an opportunity for outside evaluation". McGuiness, supra, at 481. 45 days is the standard set by McGuiness at p. 478 and by Family Code section 3024. Experience tells us, however, that the process must begin much earlier because a) a full blown moveaway case can take months to complete if dad is afforded all of his procedural entitlements and b) most practitioners are not aware of California Code of Civil Procedure section 917.7, which provides:...in the absence of a writ or order of a reviewing court providing otherwise, the provisions of the judgment or order allowing, or eliminating restrictions against, removal of the minor child from the state are stayed by operation of law for a period of 30 days from the entry of the judgment or order and are subject to any further stays ordered by the trial court, as herein provided.
While there are a number of ways to deal with this provision, do not be blindsided by a last-minute resort to it - which, if successful, could render your victorious moveaway decision completely meaningless (for example, if on a date certain mom's job offer expires, school starts the new location, or enrollment closes.)
If you are not planning to file your motion for permission to move right away, give written notice anyway [return receipt requested] immediately upon learning of the possibility of the move. You might be able to avoid filing a motion by entering into mediation right away. In any case, your motion should be filed in plenty of time to process the issue.
Step Two: Define Procedures
Motion or not, set a conference with Family Court Services, the court, or "talk amongst yourselves" to set out the procedural parameters:
- Agree on a "drop dead" date. It must be clear that a decision must be issued on or before a date certain, hopefully with 30 days' leeway for the automatic stay, in the event mom were to prevail. If there is not enough time to allow for the 30 days, then the possibility of the application of the stay must be dealt with on the spot. If dad will not agree to waive that section (if a waiver is even possible), then mom should ask the court for an on-the-spot ruling permitting the move on the drop dead date. The 30 day period would begin immediately, without prejudice to the dad; the court can always issue a decision before the drop dead date not to allow the move (which does not trigger a stay). At the least, the trial court can make its position clear on whether or not it feels it has the authority to apply the stay only to the move itself, and permit mom to take if not move the child on the drop dead date.
- Will there be extended mediation? Will Family Court Services mediate? How many times? Will there be private mediation? Can a mediator make a recommendation and skip the evaluation process? Will there be a chambers conference at the conclusion of the mediation? When do the parties give up on this process? And when they do, do they go directly to a hearing or into the evaluation mode?
- Will there be an evaluation? Decide whether or not there will be an evaluation, and if so, who will do it or how and by what date that person must be chosen, and who pays. Many judges believe that dad is absolutely entitled to an evaluation, but McGuiness technically requires only an "opportunity" for an outside evaluation. Remember too that a court can reject the evaluator's opinion. In re Marriage of Battenburg (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 1338, 1345. Battenburg suggests that the simple inquiry into the necessity of the move might be synonymous with the best interests test, which gives the court room to ignore the evaluator.
If you decide on an evaluation, set out exactly what it is you want the evaluator to do. Do you want a recommendation as to whether or not there should be a move? Do you want pscyhological testing? Do you simply want an analysis of each parent's parenting skills? What assumptions should the evaluator make? Do you want alternative recommendations? (If the move takes place, I recommend...If the move does not take place, I recommend....)
- Who will the witnesses be?
If the court is involved in this preliminary conference, your best clues will be from the judge, who may come right out and tell you that he would be interested to hear from mom's doctoral advisor, or the personnel director of the mom's current or potential company, that an evaluation is pointless, or that he would completely ignore testimony from mom's therapist. In addition to the evaluation, dad may request a vocational examination or report, for purposes of showing viable alternatives to the move or availability of similar job opportunities in the area. Other potential witnesses might be career counselors, owners of similar local businesses, others who have recently looked for work in this area, and so forth. Mom may want the court to hear from her current employer, her potential employer, school authorities or health care professionals, and perhaps the same panoply of witnesses as suggested for dad.
You should lay out the parameters for these experts and for the required cooperation of the parents: will the experts be joint? how will they be chosen? Who pays?
- When will the hearing be? How long will it last? Allow for double or triple the time you think you will need. Make sure you have all of this time set aside by the court, with dates certain for the hearing(s)/trial.
- What will the effect of the decision be? Will the court's ruling be a tentative decision, an order, a judgment or a post-judgment order, and does this really matter? Will the order be effective immediately upon its issuance and immediately appealable? Immediately subject to an automatic stay? Will it be subject to a Rule 232 statement of decision process; if so, will the order not be effective until that process is completed?
Who goes first?
California appellate districts agree that the primary concern is ultimately the child(ren)'s best interests; this test is often confused with showing the necessity of the move, such that it is hard to tell whether the necessity of the move establishes that the move would be in the children's best interests [McGuiness], or whether one must prove necessity and then go on to balance the potential loss of contact with the noncustodial parent against the necessity of the move and its advantages/disadvantages to the child [Selzer.]
At least one other state endorses the now-defunct Burgess order of proof:  dad must show that the proposed move interferes with his regular and meaningful access to the child;  mom must establish the existence of "exceptional circumstances" to warrant the move;  even if exceptional circumstances exist, mom still must show that the change will be in the child's best interests. Radford v. Propper, (N.Y. 1993) 190 A.D.2d 93. Until the California Supreme Court tell us what the order of proof in California will be, and who has the intial burden of proof/threshold showing, a suggested blueprint for mom's case at trial follows:
Step Three: Show That the Move is "Necessary"
With Burgess on appeal, mom appears to have the intial burden to show that the move is "necessary" [a term of art, one which hopefully will be clarified by the California Supreme Court.] See McGuiness, supra, at 479. What is "necessary?" There are those who compare the difference between proving that a move is "necessary" [In re Marriage of Selzer (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 637; In re Marriage of Roe (1993) 18 Cal.App.4th 1483] and proving that a move is "imperative, essential and expedient" [Battenburg, McGuiness] to the difference, say, between "preponderance of the evidence" and "beyond a reasonable doubt". But I like to think of this as family law's version of the "shock the conscience" test [the "I truly have to go" test: i.e., would this judge be really really mean not to let me move with the kids?]
When planning the presentation of your case, consider the following "legitimate" reasons for a relocation:
- Transfer of Spouse: "No Choice"
One of the most frequently encountered "necessity"'s in today's society is the transfer of mom's new husband [McGuinness, Roe, Battenburg, Yeo v. Cormaire (*N.Y., 1983) 91 A.D.2d 1153.].
It is probably easier to show necessity in this case, in that a court generally gives the new spouse the benefit of the doubt as to the necessity of the transfer and therefore imputes a lack of choice to mom. When it is mom who has been transferred or is accepting a better position, however, the court seems to look more closely into whether or not mom actually has a choice.
Put on a case for the spouse's lack of choice anyway, using the guidelines for (2) below.
- Economics: Move related to Mom's job
Even though a court is not supposed to consider the parents' relative economic positions in making a custody order [Fingert], the economics of the move are more often than not the deciding factor. It is unclear whether simple economic betterment is enough [see Hemphill v. Hemphill (New York, 1991) 169 A.D.*].
Suggestions for your case:
a. Potential Employment
Testimony: mom, future employer, superior officer, university career counselor or department head, personnel director at corporation, head hunters, vocational placement firms, evaluators, others in the field who can testify that the move is essential for mom's career, a "chance of a lifetime", and so forth.
Documentation: a copy of the written offer from the prospective employer showing when the job starts, how long the job will remain open, the salary, the benefits and perquisites; a transfer order from the present employer or superior officer showing that mom has no choice; documentation of the rarity of the offer in terms of career development.
b. Lack of Alternative
Testimony: mom, current employer/superior officer, personnel director at university, department head, head hunters, vocational placement firms, evaluators, heads of similar businesses locally showing lack of job availability; have mom testify about the consequences of not accepting the job [that she and the child will be in dire straits].
Documentation: vocational journals, research, mom's job search locally [letters of inquiry in both places, follow up correspondence, rejection letters, research comparing the two employment environments]; documentation of mom's current financial situation and needs.
- Emotional and Physical Health/Safety
Although California hasn't dealt with this issue, is your client's health at risk? Is the child's health at risk? Has there been domestic violence? See In re Marriage of Kutinac (Ill. App., 2d Dist., 1989) 538 N.E.2d 862
Suggestions for your case:
Testimony: mom, the evaluator assigned to the case, mom's therapist/psychiatrist, the child's therapist
Documentation: evaluator's report, research, hospital records, police reports, threatening letters from dad, etc.
Testimony: mom, mom's psychiatrist/physician, the children's physician, school authorities
Documentation: research, hospital records, police reports, photographs, threatening letters, evaluation report.
- Marital Settlement Agreement, Prior Orders
You can point to a written agreement between the parties or prior orders giving mom the freedom to move, but remember that the family court always has the ability to look at these situations de novo; that is, protecting the children's best interests can always empower a court to ignore the parents' intent, especially when expressed in an outdated agreement. But see William v. Pitney (Mass., 1991) 567 N.E. 2d 894 for a discussion of this issue.
- Mom's Sincere Motive
Make sure Mom's motive is proper (In re Marriage of Ciganovich (1976) 61 Cal.App.3d 289; In re Marriage of Fingert (1990) 221 Cal.App. 3d, 1575.)
Testimony: your client [we tried mediation, I made proposals, I gave notice, I have always been flexible with visitation and increasing time], other involved or interested parties.
Documentation: evaluator's report, copies of proposals, correspondence, copy of written notice of move, court records showing increasing amounts of time for dad.
Step Four: Argue for a Presumption that the Move has Already Occurred
So you can prove necessity. Is this the end of it? Probably not. Remember that necessity was not enough in Rosson, and not enough in McGuiness, for different reasons. Be prepared to go on to show a) that the move offers advantages to the child and b) de minimus detriment to dad [Step Five], even though it is probably not your burden to show lack of detriment.
From here, the "point of view" is critical. If the move is necessary, argue that the best interests analysis must proceed on the hypothetical level that mom's move has already taken place, as was done in Rosson (even though mom Rosson hadn't actually moved yet). Argue that the analysis has no meaning without assuming that which is planned will be accomplished, and that this was the precise purpose of showing that the move was necessary.
If the move is not presumed, the showing of "essential" has no meaning, in that "there will [always] be a theoretical possibility that the custodial parent can simply forego any employment, and perhaps seek welfare benefits in the community where he or she presently resides". Selzer, supra at p. 644. To beg the question of the necessity of the move by claiming that the relocation is not necessary per se because "a primary parent would not move without her child" is to force a Solomon's choice. The 2nd District acknowledged that a custodial parent "cannot be ordered to choose between her right to resettle, find employment and start a new life and retain the custody of her child." Fingert, supra, at 1575. Your goal is that the focus of the evaluation and analysis be: given the move, which parent is the child better able to leave behind?
Step Five: Show di minimus detriment, if possible
"A parent entitled to the custody of a child has the right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child." Family Code, section 7501. The next inquiry, then, is whether or not there is sufficient detriment to the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent to continue with the inquiry at all. Most courts do not follow the suggestion in Roe that it might be up to mom to show that the proposed move will have no detrimental impact on dad's relationship. Nonetheless, if you can put on a case for de minimus detriment, do so.
- Joint Custody Not Working
In Battenburg, a move was deemed to be in the child's best interests given the "disastrous" quality of exchanges, lack of cooperation between the parents and the child's own difficulties with the shared parenting plan.
Herbert Weissman, A.B.P.P., Ph.D., in his article When a Party Seeks to Move Away (Family Law News (1993) Vol.15, No. 4, p. 1), states that
One confounding assumption is that the act of relocating per se...impacts children more adversely than the fractionated family system and exposure to pre and post separation discord that often accompanies divorce. Not uncommonly, parties fail to safeguard children from the conflict, thereby ensnaring children in stressful tension, and consequently compromising their needs and interests. Relocating with the primary parent under adverse circumstances such as these may in some cases by advantageous... Another misconception is to assume that "detriment" to children always follows upon moving away with a parent, as though harm, which is vaguely but typically stridently defined, is an inevitable consequence.
While this is certainly a factor, a moveaway case is driven mostly by its own facts, and showing that joint custody isn't working will not get you very far in isolation.
- Proposed Plan is Actually Better than Current One
As outlined above, visitation after the move may not substantially interfere with dad's time, and in fact may be better for dad's relationship with the child. This factor may exist concurrently with the unworkability of joint custody, each making the other factor stronger.
- Dad's Motive
Examine dad's motives for resisting the move.
As stated succinctly by a Pennsylvania court in Gruber v. Gruber (1990) 583 A.2d 434, 439:
...the court must consider the motives of the non-custodial parent in resisting the relocation and decide whether the resistance is inspired by motives other than a legitimate desire to continue and deepen the parent-child relationship.
Show that dad doesn't take advantage of the time he already has; that he continually cancels and misses visitations, that he shows no interest in the child, that he is uninvolved in the child's school and activities, that he travels constantly and is rarely in the area anyway. Show that an improper motive is consistent with his behavior: show that he has a control problem, jealousy, prior irrational blocking of a move, a change of schools etc., and other personality disorders that would contribute to an insincere resistance to the move.
Step Six: Continuity of Care and Advantages to the Child Outweigh Detriment
Detriment is usually not de minimus, and absent bad motive, dad will probably be able to make that showing: "a custody decision allowing a parent to remove the children out of the county is bound to interfere with the remaining parent's ability to have frequent and continuing contact with his or her children." In re In re Marriage of McGuiness, (1992) 7 Cal.App. 4th 473
And yet, just as it begs the question to assert that a move is not necessary because a custodial parent would probably not move if the court did not permit her to take her child, it begs the question to assert that the detrimental impact on a non-custodial parent's visitation is per se rationale for denying a custodial parent the right to move. While significant, the impact on the non-custodial parent's visitation rights is only one factor of many to be considered before restraining a planned move. In re Marriage of Carlson (1991) 229 Cal.App.3d 1330, 1336.
A realistic balancing, then (in that both necessity and detriment have now been shown), is between "the continuity and permanency of custodial placement" per Selzer, at 647, the advantages and disadvantages to the child himself flowing from the move, and the detriment to the relationship with dad.
Step Seven: Show That the Move is in the Child's Best Interests
If you have convinced the court to presume that the move has taken place, then the court must balance the detriment to the child in remaining behind with dad: whether or not it will be in the child's best interests to disturb the "continuity and permanency of custodial placement with the primary caretaker parent":
As a practical matter, the best interests of the child will often parallel those of the primary caretaker parent, since the interests of the child in continuity and permanency of custodial placement with the primary caretaker parent may otherwise be defeated. Selzer at p. 643
Along these lines, the Pennsylvania case [Gruber] reversed a trial court and permitted the mother of a 4 year old, 2 year old and an infant (born after the appeal was filed) to move from Pennsylvania to Illinois to be near family and improved employment: Our analysis begins with the recognition that divorce causes irrevocable changes in parent-child relationships. Further, we emphasize that the best interests of the child are more closely allied with the interests and quality of life of the custodial parent and cannot, therefore, be determined without reference to those interests. In the context of the relocation cases this principle translates into an understanding that when relocation is likely to result in a substantially enhanced quality of life for a custodial parent, often the child's best interests will be indirectly but genuinely served...The task of this court is to sacrifice the non-custodial parent's interest as little as possible in the face of the competing and often compelling interest of a custodial parent who seeks a better life in another geographical location." Gruber, op. cit., at. 438.
Suggestions for mom's case:
- Evaluator: Have the evaluator determine that mom is the child's psychological/primary parent, describe the relationship between the child and each parent, describe each parent's parenting skills, confirm mom's commitment to the child's continued contact with dad, describe the detriment to the child if mom moves and the child is left behind, mom's motive, dad's psychological problems, and whether there may be advantages to distancing the child from the problematic joint parenting or dad's problems.
Don't assume that because the evaluator may have recommended against the move that he still can't help you show that mom is psychological parent.
- The child: Even though I have never advocated for this, some judges appear to be more interested in speaking with children per Family Code section 3042 (the turning point in Rosson, even though mom Rosson might have been the psychological parent, and even though mom Rosson's move was presumed.) The child's preference, even if he is not sufficently mature to speak with the court, can be expressed through his own writings, through school authorities, through his or her therapist, and particularly through the evaluator.
If the child is too young to state a preference per Family Code section 3042, argue that it is presumed to be in his best interests to remain with the custodial parent: ...while the expressed preference of the child may not be determinative, and there may be problems with the very young child in understanding or even reliably ascertaining the child's own wishes through the filter of parental desires, in the absence of an expressed view, the best interests of the child may often be presumed to favor permanency of custodial placement. Seltzer, at 644, emphasis added.
- If the issue of whether or not the move has taken place is not resolved, build a case for the move being in the child's best interests generally: to (1) and (2) above, add:
- Is There Extended Family in the New Location?
Even though extended family in the new location did not cut much ice with the court in Carlson, it is still a factor that contributes to the child's best interests in terms of the advantages of the new location, especially where the grandparents, aunts and uncles have been actively involved with the child. See In re Marriage of Eaton (Ill. App., 4th Dist., 1995) 646 N.E.2d 635.
- What is the New Environment Like?
Show that mom has a thoroughly considered plan for the relocation, and that there are advantages offered in the new location, particularly advantages that are not available here. Where will mom and the child live? What is the neighborhood like? Are there other children in the neighborhood, parks nearby? Is it safer than the child's current environment? Healthier? Can you prove that? Is there research available on the demographics? [I once came across an article in the local newspaper actually comparing the quality of life in San Francisco with that in Minneapolis, in the middle of a Minneapolis moveaway case.] Where will the child attend school? Will it be public or private? How close is it to mom's new home? What is its reputation, its statewide and national test scores? How close is it? What is the teacher-student ratio? Is it cheaper and better than what is available here? What are the school's overall ratings? Have mom take photos of new area (playgrounds, schools, home, sports facilities); gather written materials from the chamber of commerce, board of realtors, clergy, information and surveys on public and private schools] What is the community like, and what special services does it provide for the child that might not be available here? Mom might make tapes showing the day-care facility, the home, the school, the playground/athletic field, the nearby partk, the church, interviews with school personnel, the daycare provider, the pediatrician.
- Detriment to child if move not permitted
Show that it will be detrimental to the child if the move is not allowed. In addition to the advantages of the new location, show the downside of the current location. Consider the poor relationship between the parents, as suggested above;
domestic violence, the child's safety, mom's poor financial and psychological situation, the child's current poor performance in school and/or other problems, the loss of new step siblings. Show that dad is not contributing financially, the child's needs are not being presently met, high cost of living and daycare, lay out contrasting budgets.
3. Gender alignment
Even though far-fetched, there could be a case to be made for whether girl children should stay with mothers and boys with fathers, given different stages of development. See Hadick v. Hadick 603 A.2d 915 (Md. App. 1992) Farmer v. Dervay (N.Y. 1991) 174 A.D.2d 857. You should present research with a well-laid foundation, testimony from your evaluator or other experts in research of this nature.
- Plan for visitation
It is important that mom have a plan for providing maximum contact with dad, and that she can show that it is financially feasible for the parents to carry it out. The plan should include number and duration of visits per year, where those visits should take place, and the basic logistics of the visits in terms of where dad would stay when visiting in the new location, and how those visits might work, how dad will be kept up to date with school and medical records, vacation schedules and other data.
Mom's plan can include regular letters, telephone calls, "day in the life" video tapes of the child at school, at daycare, playing with friends, in the neighborhood, in the home, speaking directly to dad, etc.
Remind the court too that continuity of primary care needs protected as well. The adjusted schedule should not provide that every free holiday is spent with dad.
Consider arguing that mom's proposed plan may actually be better than the present one:
It is at least arguable...that the alternative of uninterrupted visits of a week or more in duration several times a year, where father is in constant and exclusive parental contact with the children and has to plan and provide for them on a daily basis, may well serve the paternal relationship better than the typcal weedkly visit which involves little, if any exercise of real parental responsibiility. D'Onofrio v. D'Onofrio (1976) 144 N.J. Super. 200.
- Child's preference
Even though the child's preference has been discussed above, consider having the child visit the new location and reporting back.
These are, indeed, family law's nightmare cases, and must be taken quite seriously. Hopefully, these suggestions will help guide mom through the process, as well as analyze her chances of succeeding. Look for the other point of view [Blueprint for Defending a Moveaway Case by Sandy Barnett and Richard Bryan], coming soon in the next issue of Family Law News.