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'AITA for moving away from my ex-wife after winning full custody of my sons?' UPDATED

'AITA for moving away from my ex-wife after winning full custody of my sons?' UPDATED


'AITA for moving after winning full custody of my sons?'

My wife and I got a divorce last year. Our relationship failed after she was charged with felony credit card fraud and ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge. She had been a SAHM to our 2 sons (5 & 3) and had taken credit cards out in my mom's name to pay for God knows what. She shattered my trust. I work full-time and make a decent living, but nothing extravagant.

I had no clue what my wife was doing until cops showed up at my door with a warrant and took my wife away in cuffs and took 2 laptops as evidence. When I got the full story I filed for divorce immediately.

Aside from being a criminal, she was a good mom. She tried to justify what she did by saying she was just doing what was best for our kids, which I felt was total BS given that she never mentioned wanting for anything and anytime she asked to spend on something I almost always said yes. I hired a good lawyer and asked for full-custody of my kids.

My ex begged me not to do that, saying she needed her kids. But she was still looking at up to a year in jail and nothing her lawyer said could sway the judge to grant her anything more than supervised visitation. She ended up doing 90-days in jail, paying some fines and restitution, but I've allowed her to see our sons almost every time she's asked.

The last year has been total hell, but we've made it work. A few months ago I was offered a much more lucrative position a few states away. I talked with my lawyer about what it would mean if I moved and what the process was. He said that since I have full custody, I have to file a petition with the court to move. So I told my wife what I wanted to do and she exploded.

She claimed I was stealing her kids from her, that she's made a lot of strides to get herself to a better place, and that she would fight me tooth and nail for her kids. Well, I filed the petition, got the go ahead from the courts, and accepted the job. When the judge gave his ruling my wife burst into tears and began sobbing. It was heartbreaking. I know in my head that I'm doing the right thing for my sons.

They are young enough that a move like this won't be too traumatic, but I also feel like their lives have already been completely overturned and I'm just adding more to that. As for my wife, she's a wreck. She's been begging me to reconsider the move, trying everything from guilt trips, manipulation, bargaining. It's like she's going through the stages of grief.

But from my point of view, she did this to herself. She lied and broke the law, I have very little sympathy for her. I know at some point she will probably try to file for partial custody and I'm prepared for that. For now, I'm just trying to do what's best for me and my sons. Does that make me an a$$hole?

Edit: Thank you to everyone who commented, even the one's who called me a heartless AH for taking my sons away from their mother. This post has given me a lot of perspective and I appreciate that. A couple things I want to clear up that I keep getting asked about that I wasn't able to include in my original post.

1.) The area my sons and I live in is a smaller community. Not "everyone knows everyone" small, but close. The crime my ex committed was news here. It was in the paper. People know about it. I get weird looks when I'm out in public. People have stopped inviting my sons to birthday parties. I don't want my sons to be bullied and teased in school about their mother being a criminal.

2.) I am not going to permanently alienate my sons from their mother. I will make sure they are able to talk and facetime with her whenever they want. I will be the one who makes the drive back in order for them to see her until she is able to make arrangements to allow her to do so. I will continue to work with my ex to make sure she is included in things like birthdays and holidays.

3.) I know my sons and I will all need therapy from this. There is not good mental health help available where my previous job is. My new job offers on-site childcare and I will have access to counseling and therapy for myself and my sons that we would not have access to without moving. The schools near my new job are head and shoulders above the ones near my previous job.

4.) If my ex gets her life back on track and is able to move closer to us, I'm all for it. If she does the things she needs to do in order to petition for shared custody, I don't intend on fighting her for that. But until she does that, I will not allow her anything more than the supervised visits ruled by the court. I will also not ask for any of the court-ordered child support, we won't need it.

5.) To all the people who screamed "but she's their mother!" Yes, and she always will be. And I remind my sons daily that their mom loves them very much and that she wishes she can be with them like before. I am angry and resentful of my wife but I work very, very hard to not let any of those feelings impact my sons and their relationship with their mom.

What do you think? This is what some of the top commenters had to say:

[deleted] said:

This is tough. The divorce and getting full-custody? Fully deserved. NTA on that account. Moving to another part of the country where she'll have no contact with them? I'm not so sold on this. I think that you're still in pain and resent her (and rightfully so), but I'm not sure this is the best you can do regarding your children's relationship with their mother.

Does she have any possibility of getting a job? Of moving? Or is she a financial mess as well and what are her living conditions like now? Have you gone to therapy?

Let me be clear: she did what she did and she's been held accountable for it. You've got a right to move from a legal perspective. But moving, when you know she can't do the same, will massively screw her relationship with your children and it will only lead to more anger, resentment, and pain.

[deleted] said:

I love all the people in here bending over backwards to excuse and downplay the crimes of the ex because she's a "mom." What a load of crap. And to OP and the rest of the people in here calling her a good mother: Good mothers don't destroy their families by willingly committing federal crimes... And for what? Some makeup and designer clothing. Good mother my butt.

LeonhardTaylor said:

NTA. It's absolutely moronic that some people in here think you should forego an amazing career opportunity and an opportunity to provide an amazing life for your sons because of an ex-wife who has no legal custody of your children, stole $30k from your mother-in-law, ruined her credit and could very well have left her homeless.

HeelSteamboat said:

Y’all know this begging for a genders reversed situation. Holy sh!t people are actually calling him AH. OP is NTA. PLEASE ALL YOU MOMS OUT THERE NEED TO LET GO OF YOUR BIASES

Verdict: NTA.


I got a lot of people asking for an update on this situation, and since a few things have changed I figured I would go for it. I did end up taking the new job and moved with my sons. We have been settling into our new lives quite nicely over the last month and things have been going really well.

My sons love the new house, they have made friends with some other kids their age in the neighborhood, my job has been going really well and I really couldn't have hoped for things to go better than they have. I got both of my sons into a great therapy program and the three of us have also been doing counseling sessions together.

My boys have been adjusting amazingly well and I'm so happy and proud of how they've handled this. We've also made 2 trips back to see their mother since she is still in the process of figuring out what she will be allowed to do in relation to her probation. We've also been doing many video-calls a week with her.

My sons still don't understand why their mom isn't here with us, but they do seem to grasp that this is going to be their new normal. In comparison with how well myself and my sons are adjusting, my ex is the complete opposite. She is still very angry with me and thinks I'm a complete a-hole.

She's frustrated with the process of going through the courts to be allowed to move, she's frustrated that I'm not willing to drive our sons back to see her as often as she'd like, she feels she's being marginalized in their lives and that I am pulling them away from her.

When she was complaining about all of this during our last visit, I reminded her that all of those things are consequences of her own actions and she blew up at me by saying I am kicking her when she's already down and I didn't need to take her sons away from her. I told her how well our sons are doing and how happy they are and she should be proud of how strong and resilient they've been.

She then started begging me to please move back so that she can be closer because she's not sure the courts will allow her to move and the process is taking too long. I told her that wasn't going to happen, but if there is anything I can do with the court process, that I would be willing to help if I can.

I reminded her that I haven't said anything about her not paying the court-ordered child support, but that our boys seem to be in a much better place already and I'm not going to take that away from them.

Every time we have a video call with her, as soon as she says good-bye to our sons she starts asking me to consider moving back home. I tell her every time that it is not happening. I'm not a robot and I do feel bad to see her so desperate and distraught, but when I look at my son's playing and laughing with their new friends, I know I've done the right thing no matter the cost to my ex.

Sources: Reddit
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