A common tactic by a vengeful custodial parent is to move, often out of state, separating the child geographically from the non-custodial parent.
For the vengeful custodial parent, this has numerous benefits: it becomes more difficult for the non-custodial parent to exercise visitation, and at the same time makes it more difficult (and expensive) for the non-custodial parent to seek relief through the courts for denied visitation or other wrongful acts by the custodial parent. A move-away also isolates the child from the non-custodial parent, making them more susceptible to Parental Alienation Syndrome.
If you even suspect your ex-spouse might do this, you need to be prepared. Fighting a move-away can be especially difficult due to the time-frame imposed by the custodial parent's moving date. This once again benefits the custodial parent unfairly, making it imperative that you secure a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) specifying that the children are not to be removed from the state. You must do this as soon as you find out (or suspect) that the custodial parent is moving.
If you are in the process of divorce or custody dispute, a key item to make certain that is put in the final paperwork is an "anti-move-away" stipulation. Essentially, this states that if the custodial parent moves more than certain number of miles away, custody changes to the remaining parent. Even with this stipulation in the divorce/custody decree you can't count on this as being an iron-clad agreement; these kinds of stipulations have been defeated in various instances, but it certainly makes the argument against the move-away that much stronger.
In preparing for a future move away by your ex-spouse, consider the following items:
Being heavily involved with your child's life on a continuing basis is a definite MUST. Being "heavily involved" since last week doesn't count.
Keep a record of how much you have been involved with your child's school, how you foster the involvement with your child's brothers, sisters and family.
Attend school meetings and be involved to the max in fund raising, attending children's activities etc.
Teach your child family values, take her to church on a regular basis, visit your parents/grandparents gravesite, visit your child's relatives, invite friends over to stay, invite cousins, etc. over to stay.
Take your child on vacations and make sure if at all possible those are "family" vacations with your child's siblings.
Take your child to the dentist and doctor for every little thing he/she complains about. Sometimes those little things are not as little as they might appear to be.
Keep long and detailed records of what you have done with your child and keep long and detailed records if your ex participated in any of these events.
Keep records of extra activities your ex provides. Complement those with the activities and social involvement you provide for your child.
Try to expand the visitation, even if it is only a couple of hours a month. If your ex has given you this opportunity, definitely take advantage of it.
Try to swap weekends so you can have your child participate in company-sponsored activities like whitewater rafting, amusement park visits, etc.
Enroll your child in some nice activities he/she can attend like Space Camp for a week, horseback riding, etc. Attend or participate in those activities and keep records and take pictures as much as you can. Make a big photo album of activities done with you paste all the pictures in it.
Also foster the contact with her brothers, sisters and family members.
Attend every family outing you are invited to and things such as family weddings, graduations, etc. Take your child to them. Take pictures with your family members or ex family members.
Assume your case is active and collect all the case law you can find in an orderly manner.
Document any relevant case issues such as how you have demonstrated that you are a good custodial parent.
Support, or even better, initiate any college requirements for your child so you can get credit for this. Document this and correspond with your ex and file all those for later use.
There are a number of things you can do do help show that you are the better custodial parent, in some cases just by letting your ex default on her expected custodial parent responsibilities.
If you can be involved in your child's life enough to find out how his or her relationship is with your ex, you may be able to build a much better case to show that you are the better custodial parent, and in the meantime provide for your child "in his or her best interests".
Don't overdo it. Don't spoil your child- discipline your child when necessary and document why you took this action and how you talked with your child about it. This is a good example of being a responsible custodial parent. On the other hand, "lack of discipline" on your ex's side is to your advantage.