Before you got married, you moved around as you pleased. After your marriage, you lost that freedom. You settled down, had two kids and bought a house. It all happened over years, so you did not really think about it, but it still happened.
Now you've gotten divorced and you share custody of your children with your ex. Since you are single again, does that freedom of movement come back? Can you just pack up and head off in search of the next adventure?
You cannot. Even though you and your ex are no longer married, you are still linked through your children. You both have a right to see them and spend time with them. Perhaps your child custody agreement says that you each get them every other week.
That's what makes moving hard and sometimes impossible. If you move to the other side of the country, it can infringe on your ex's rights. He or she suddenly cannot see the kids. You break the child custody schedule. You violate the court order. This could get you in legal trouble, not to mention the emotional issues you could create by separating your kids from their father or mother.
Can you relocate at all?
You may feel a bit trapped, but relocation is possible. You just have to show that it is really in the children's best interests. The courts worry about people moving to get revenge on the other parent. Showing that you have a valid reason to move helps your case.
Here are five things you should know about this process:
- It can take time. Before, you could drop everything and leave the next day. Now, you have to wait for the court case to play out.
- People will question you. This could include the court, your ex and even your family. Make sure you have a thick skin.
- The children's best interests come first in court. Even if the move would be nice for you, if it has a drastic negative impact on the kids, it can get denied.
- The move likely needs to improve the children's quality of life. For instance, you may be able to show that moving for a new job not only helps your career, but it also gives the child more disposable income, a better living situation and other benefits.
- Things may never be perfect. Even if you get permission to move and you know it helps the kids, that does not mean they will not miss seeing your ex. Be ready to find creative solutions and help them work through the transition. Again, remember that it is all about the kids, not you.
As you get this process started, be sure you understand all of the legal steps you need to take.