If the marriage was unhappy, the divorce was likely hostile. Perhaps the custody battle was fierce and dirty, and that has left you bitter. As difficult as it was to get along with your spouse before the divorce, now parenting has the added challenge of two separate households, complicated schedules and divided holidays.
Nevertheless, the court-ordered parenting time is important to the children, and you have cooperated for their sakes. However, an opportunity for a move has come to you and the children, and you are ready to take advantage of it.
What are your true motivations?
Nearly one quarter of custodial parents make a drastic move within the first two years after a divorce. This move may stem from a variety of factors:
- Wanting to be closer to extended family
- Providing better educational opportunities for your children
- Wanting better job opportunities
- Struggling financially where you are
- Hoping to get as far away from your ex as possible
- Desiring to hurt your ex by making it difficult for him or her to see the children
If your reason for moving is to inflict pain on your former spouse, psychologists recommend considering how your children may perceive that hostility before making such a life-altering decision. Studies have shown that young children flourish with regular and frequent contact from both parents. Those whose parents lived miles apart reported feeling angry, tense and discontent.
Working it out with your co-parent
In most states, if you plan to move more than a certain distance away, you will be required to present to the court a proposal for a new parenting plan that will allow your co-parent adequate time with the children. The best first step before making any parenting decision is usually discussing it with your co-parent. This may be difficult if the two of you do not get along well or if he or she is adamantly opposed to the move.
Psychologists urge parents to respect one another and strive to establish an air of harmony. If your children are exposed to rancorous altercations between you and your co-parent, they may come to believe that this is normal for relationships. Despite the bitterness between you, keeping the fragile emotions of the children first in mind may allow you to make a rational decision instead of an emotional one about relocating.
You may need a neutral facilitator
Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to work this out before your custody modification hearing. If the two of you cannot reach agreements easily, mediation is an option that many couples have found beneficial.
By working with an attorney who is a qualified mediator, you can be assured that your dispute will be handled with dignity and as little conflict as possible. The mediator remains neutral and keeps you and your co-parent focused on the goal, which is to provide a nurturing environment for your children, whether you decide to stay put or make the move.