Moving with Children after Separation
After separation, many parents want to start a new life. This could mean a new job in a new city, move home to be closer to family, or moving to a new place with a new partner. When children and parenting arrangements are added to the mix, moving becomes much more fraught.
Nine times out of ten, parents will have joint custody of their children which means that they must share decision making regarding big events in their children’s lives. Where your children live is a major decision that must be made jointly.
Moving as Non-Primary Parent
If you are not the primary caregiver of your children, a move is much easier. You can move without discussing it with your former spouse; however, you must also realize that a move will alter your parenting time. If you move across the country, then your time may change significantly; weekend and weeknight visits will no longer be possible. Instead, discuss with your former spouse how your parenting time can change. Rather than every other weekend, you may now have two weeks in the summer or over other holiday times. If you feel that the move is worth it for your career or your personal relationships, then you will have to accept a new normal regarding parenting.
Moving as the Primary Parent or in Shared Parenting Regimes
When you are the residential or primary parent, moving is much more difficult. There are two options for a move when you are either the primary parent or share parenting. In both cases, it can be a difficult battle with the court to obtain that permission for a move. Before escalating to the court level, you should speak with your former spouse. If you are the primary parent, it may be easier to work out a new parenting arrangement wherein the non-residential parent has the same amount of parenting time as pre-move, but in different iterations from the typical every other weekend.
If you are a shared parent, you must be prepared to have a more difficult discussion with your co-parent. You must be prepared that you may no longer be a primary parent should a move make a shared parenting arrangement impractical.
The most important consideration for courts in all parenting matters is the best interests of the child. If your children have been in one community for many years and have built a community with friends, a school, and extracurricular activities, a judge will be reluctant to take a child from that stable environment. However, courts cannot tell adults where they can and cannot live; no court will ever prevent you yourself from moving, but they may rule that your children cannot leave that community.
Before you move, speak to your co-parent and brainstorm some solutions that could permit a move while maintaining a stable environment for your children. If you cannot reach a solution, you must face a mobility application in the courts. In such a situation, you may want to consult a lawyer to know all possible avenues for your application.