Are you a noncustodial parent who is going through a divorce? Or, perhaps your divorce has been finalized for some time now. Either way, if you are considering moving to another county or even out of state and leaving your children with your ex, we have some things you may want to consider before you book that U-Haul truck.
It is not uncommon for either parent to want to move after a divorce. Common reasons for moving include being closer to family, relocating for a new job, moving to be closer to a new boyfriend or girlfriend, or simply relocating for a change of scenery, a fresh start.
If you’re the noncustodial parent or you’re going to be and you’re thinking of moving from Annapolis to say, Florida, Ohio, or as far away as sunny Southern California, it’s important to pause for a long moment and consider the impact such a move can have on your kids.
How Would a Move Affect Your Kids?
Yes, we know that parents move away from their children all the time, but that doesn’t mean it has a positive impact, let alone a positive outcome over the long-term. That being said, here are some things to think about before pulling the trigger:
- Even though we now have FaceTime and Skype, they just aren’t the same as being with your kids in person. How would your children feel if their weekly visits with you turned into monthly, bi-monthly, or even less frequent visits? Would your children feel abandoned?
- Noncustodial parents often make a long-distance move with the best intentions, but they fail to realize how difficult and expensive it can be to pay for plane tickets, hotels, and meals every few months – it can add up making it unaffordable to fly in to see their children regularly.
- If you move far away, your ex may use the move against you and your children may never forgive you, even as they reach adulthood! They may “act” supportive of the move while they’re secretly very sad about it.
- If you have a poor relationship with your ex, he or she may use your move as an opportunity to alienate you from your children. If parental alienation becomes a real threat and your kids take your ex’s side, you may never be able to repair the damage.
- If your kids are young, they can be very impressionable. If your ex is bitter about the move because you saddled him or her with the kids practically full-time or because they feel you abandoned your children, your ex can paint a picture to your children, a version of events that may become very real for your children even if things were not how your ex painted them out to be.
- You may plan on monthly visits, but when real life sets in, those monthly visits may turn into once every three months, then once every six months until you barely see your children.
- If you have any intention of seeking custody of your children after you move far away, you may be out of luck. Judges generally don’t like to change the status quo; they don’t like to uproot children. So, if you try to seek custody after you move, there’s a good chance the odds will be in your ex’s favor.
If you have the flexibility and the means to move and you know a move is in your family’s best interests, then all the power to you. However, if you are reluctant to move because you know it could hurt your children’s feelings and impact your relationship with them, you may want to put the move on hold for now.
If you have any child custody questions, we invite you to contact the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis for a free phone consultation.