Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Things to consider before relocating a child after divorce

In our digital day and age, it is quite common for couples to initially meet, and communicate for some time, over the internet. Often, the parties reside miles apart, or even in another state or country. Should these relationship blossom, couples should be aware of a relocation scenario that could take place after a divorce that involving children, as well as the potential problems that could arise from it.

Julie married her high school sweetheart, Mark, 10 years ago, and they had two beautiful children who are now six and eight years old. As Julie and Mark got older, they grew apart and eventually decided to get a divorce. Since the divorce, Julie decided to sign up for a dating website where she met and ultimately fell in love with the man of her dreams. They would now like to get married and live life in the same household. However, she and the children, as well as the children's father, reside in Tennessee. Her soon-to-be husband resides and works in California. He has asked Julie to relocate herself and the children there.

Before Julie starts packing, there are some things she should think about regarding the children. First, she should likely be mentally prepared for an onslaught of criticism, especially if the move will take place before the ink has fully dried on the divorce papers. While emotions are still running high is not the best time to make a life changing decision involving a child's quality of life, and a court will consider such if the father decides to contest the move. Second, speaking of court, she should probably expect to end up there. Relocating a child a far physical distance from one parent makes for a difficult situation that could result in feelings of regret or selfishness if the child does not thrive in his or her new home. Plans for visitation and continued electronic contact are highly recommended prior to a relocation, and should be entered on record by order of a court to prevent future disputes.

There is no "correct answer" to a relocation scenario after divorce. However, with proper planning, expert advice, and open-minded consideration of all feelings and concerns, it can become a positive experience. A child custody attorney or mediator can be an extremely valuable source in negotiating guidelines for relocation of children that will result in what is best for all involved.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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