The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a trial court Wednesday that it is not in the best interests of a child to move to Hawaii with her mother and stepfather.
Mother H.H. and father A.A. were married, but separated when G.A. was born in 2006. They have both since remarried and A.A. has two children with his new wife, in addition to her children from a previous relationship.
Mother and her husband wanted to move to Hawaii after visiting on their honeymoon. She filed a notice of intent to relocate and before the court ruled, her husband J.H. accepted a job in Hawaii. The court denied her request, so she filed a second notice. That was also denied. The trial court ruled it was in G.A.’s best interest to stay in Indiana, pointing out the distance would make it difficult for her to see her father on a regular basis as she does now.
Mother appealed, and in H.H. v. A.A., 03A01-1308-DR-354, the Court of Appeals affirmed. The judges did find the trial court erred in ruling that the mother did not show a good faith and legitimate reason for proposing the relocation. Her husband acquired a job in Hawaii that would give them affordable benefits and he would work fewer hours. The appellate court found the mother’s stated reason for the move – to live and create a family life with J.H. – was sufficient to prove the request was made in good faith.
But they agreed that the move was not in the girl’s best interests. The COA pointed to the trial court record that showed G.A. was thriving in school and was close to her father, his parents, and her half siblings and step siblings. They also noted that even though mother offered to pay for G.A. to visit her father, she would not have any income when she first moved because she would be starting a medical clinic that would take a few years to become profitable.