Relocation after a divorce or separation can be a fairly common occurrence, but when children are involved, there are more intricacies to consider. In an effort to minimize the drastic changes in a child’s life after divorce, the co-parents should carefully determine if a relocation is in the best interest of the child.
Changes to Routine
Before a move is considered by either a custodial or noncustodial parent, the effects the move will have on a child should be considered in detail. If moved, a child could be required to change:
- Living spaces
- Extra-curricular involvement (sports, clubs, church)
- Family visitation
- Daily routine
- Familiar spaces (parks, stores, neighborhood)
Coupled with the separation of their parents, this amount of change could be overwhelming to a child if occurring simultaneously. This could cause behavioral and adjustment issues that could affect them for years to come.
Relocation as a Positive Change
While the negative impacts of the relocation of a child should be considered, in some cases, the positive benefits outweigh them. If the child’s well-being is improved overall by the move, this is something both co-parents should support. One parent may find it difficult to set aside their desire to be near their child but should be willing to do so if the child’s best interest is served. The continued dispute between parents over a relocation could add another layer of difficulty for the child.
Though often a difficult court case, the ruling is more likely to favor the relocating parent if the move:
- Still allows for regular visitation by the noncustodial parent
- Affords the custodial parent better job or housing opportunities
- Will increase the number of extended family members nearby
- Is supported by the noncustodial parent
- Is viewed positively by an older child
- Is not an excessive distance from the current home
When relocation enters the separation or divorce conversation, the interests of all parties should be considered, with special attention paid to the effects of the move on a child. Co-parents should work toward agreement on what is best for their child and the continued health of their co-parenting arrangement.