Later this month, I am scheduled to conclude a removal trial, which first began in February 13, 2013. I say “scheduled” because as far as trials go, there is a very real likelihood the case will push into June.
I am representing a 45-year-old father who is fighting to prevent his seven-year-old, first grade son, from being permanently removed to the state of California by his mother. After exploring more than 200 job opportunities in California and less than 15 in Illinois over the course of more than a year and a half, the mother has alleged that she cannot find work in Chicago, even though she has a Masters Degree and significant work experience, combined with a broad range of skill sets that would make her extremely marketable.
The father, whom I represent, coaches his son’s Little League team, brings him to extended family functions regularly, picks up and drops him off at school several times during the week, and by all accounts, including by the mother, has an outstanding relationship with his son that is close, caring and loving with a very strong bond.
So, while the mother has chosen to make the issue about money, as I reflect on the case, I find irony in the fact that the parents, combined, will end up spending over a quarter of a million in legal fees alone. Wouldn’t you think that kind of money would go a long way in raising a child if that were the true basis for having to move to California?
While there is irony in the cost of litigation in terms of dollars and cents, the real “cost” in this case is to the relationship of a young boy with his father. The mother has testified that she does not believe there will be any negative effect on the boy, which either completely shows her lack of understanding of the child’s relationship with his father, or that she simply doesn’t care. Growing up all the way out on the West Coast, and seeing his father occasionally, will have a tremendous negative impact on this young boy as he grows up and becomes as a man.
Don’t get me wrong, there are situations where removing a child out of state may be in the child’s best interest, and I have even tried cases where I have successfully litigated for removal. However, in cases like the one I am in the middle of trying now, where the father is intimately involved in his son’s life on a regular and weekly basis, what is more important than the child’s relationship with the parent wanting to keep the child in Illinois?
Had my client had a limited relationship with his son that could be replicated even if the child were living in California, then we would not be this far along into such a costly process. Aren’t there enough fatherless children already in this world?