Mercado v. Soto
A court can find that a request to relocate with minor children to improve a parent’s economic prospects is in the best interests of the minor children. The parties never married. In April 2011, the defendant, Luis Soto, was awarded sole custody of the parties’ minor children, who are 12, 11 and 8 years old. The defendant, who has relatives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was offered a job in Virginia and requested court permission to relocate with the minor children. The plaintiff, who has been in Puerto Rico and has only seen the minor children five or six times since April 2012, objected to the defendant’s request to relocate and sought custody. The court appointed a guardian ad litem. Allegedly, the minor children observed domestic violence between the plaintiff and her boyfriend. The court found that the defendant offered a legitimate reason to relocate, to obtain a good job in the defendant’s field of expertise. The plaintiff has not exercised her visitation rights consistently or sought and obtained counseling. The court denied the plaintiff’s request for custody. Relocation is in the best interests of the minor children, and the court granted the defendant’s motion to relocate. The court ordered the defendant to provide Family Services with the defendant’s address, phone number and place of employment in Virginia, as well as information about the minor children’s schools and activities. The plaintiff may communicate with the minor children four times per week.