When the moment comes to consider divorce, it can be hard to envision just
what the next few weeks are going to look like – much less what
the next several years are going to look like. Questions that were simple
before suddenly seem unanswerable. Things that were never questioned suddenly
become hot topics that you and your ex can’t agree on. Every divorced
or divorcing parent will eventually come to discover the importance of
working alongside your ex as a co-parent. Coming to this realization can
be difficult and for some it can take years. But even after divorced parents
accept the need for co-parenting, there are certain situation that can
throw a wrench into the civility and cooperation that has been built up
for the benefit of the child. One such issue is relocation after divorce.
Relocation and co-parenting often seem like an impossible pair.
At best, the question of relocation after
divorce for co-parents is both complex and difficult. Many find it useful to address the issue
before it comes up by including relocation after divorce in the parenting
plan. The most effective parenting plan will accommodate parental relocation
while maintaining proportional residential parental responsibility after
the move. While doing so is difficult…it can be done. Shared parenting
(and even equal parenting) is possible when parents live a substantial
distance apart from one another; especially if the children involved are older.
It’s important to note that while addressing their own rights as
parents, co-parents should make every attempt to keep the stability and
continuity of their children’s lives a priority. Research indicates
that children of divorce fare better if their parents remain in the same
general area after their divorce. Relocation with the children after divorce
(particularly when legal decision making and parenting time is shared
between two parties) should be carefully considered. Such moves can have
a substantial impact on the children and the relationship they have with
one or both parents. If it is decided that relocation is the right thing
to do in a particular circumstance, parents should make a special effort
to maintain the children’s relationships with both parents after the move.
Maintaining Children’s Relationships with Both Parents After Relocation:
1. Divorced parents that wish to relocate should consider, if possible,
postponing relocation until children are at least two years old. Children
are better equipped to handle this type of change when they have the necessary
cognitive and language skills to maintain long-distance relationships.
2. Be creative – maintaining relationships long distance may mean
utilizing a number of different forms of communication. Use what works
best in the given situation: phone calls, videotapes, email, video chatting,
Facetime, texting, etc. But never forget that none of this replaces in
person time spent between parent and child.
3. Utilize support services available to make maintaining successful co-parenting
long distance, such as mediation, parenting coordination, parenting plans, etc.
If you are interested in more information regarding maintaining a
successful co-parenting plan in spite of relocation, please get in touch with the experienced divorce
Arizona Family Law Attorneys. We can assist you in determining where you need to start.