Parental relocation after a divorce

Divorce can be a difficult situation for two adults. It can be emotional, frustrating, and time-consuming trying to arrive at a settlement that satisfies both parties.

When you add children into this mix, it can be even more challenging. When one side wants shared custody or access, you may have to interact with your former spouse for years to come. This can make decisions – like moving away – harder to arrange.

While relocation in a shared custody or co-parenting situation can be difficult, it is not impossible. As outlined in Psychology Today, there are a couple of tips parents can utilize to make the transition easier on themselves, as well as the children involved.

Tips to make relocation situations less frustrating:

  • Is the move in the best interests of the child? For example, if one parent must move for a job, and the alternative is to lose his or her source of income, that may prove to be a compelling reason to move. Each person’s situation will be different, so it’s important to consult with a family lawyer what your legal rights are to relocate if you are the custodial parent or if you have joint custody.
  • Create a detailed parenting plan: With a legal professional if necessary, that clearly outlines how a child will maintain contact with each parent in different jurisdictions. A visitation schedule, phone call schedule, and holiday schedule should all be clearly set-out so each parent is aware of how their co-parenting schedule will work.
  • Wait until the child is older: Another tip, although not one this is always possible. Because relocation can cause tense situations and emotional distress for both parents and children, it may be better to wait until a child has the mental capabilities to develop a meaningful relationship with each parent.

Moving is very common for families in general – even more so for families after a divorce. But if you are challenging one parent’s decision to move, or you are the parent being challenged, it’s important to consult a family lawyer to find out what your legal rights are, and what options you have at your disposal. Courts generally tend to favour relocations where plans to protect and foster a child’s meaningful relationship with each parent is factored into the arrangements.

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