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Relocating Your Family After Divorce: Helping Kids Manage

Relocating Your Family After Divorce: Helping Kids Manage

Picking up and moving your family regardless of what age your kids are is difficult. Many children have developed attachments to the home they “grew up in” or the area that serves as the setting for most of their memories. When parents are divorced or separated, relocation tends to follow for at least one parent and often for the entire family. The divorce/separation is a big life change in itself, and relocating your family after divorce (even if it’s the best decision for the family) can be hard on the children. They’re dealing with one big change on top of another. Having said that, most parents aren’t surprised to see that moving the kids after a divorce or separation is challenging. What needs to be discussed is how to handle the move so that it has minimal negative impact on your children.

Relocating After Divorce: How to Decrease Confusion and Stress for Your Kids

Know the Law: Every state has laws governing moving in relation to minors who have parents sharing legal decision making and parenting time. If you are considering moving with the kids after divorce or separation – know how the law applies to your move. It’s particularly important if you are considering moving to a location that is far from where the children were residing before the divorce or separation. For a detailed discussion of your situation and Arizona state laws that could apply to relocating with the kids after divorce or separation, get in touch with an experienced Arizona divorce attorney prior to making any decisions about moving.

Be Smart About Who “Gets” the Marital Home: In many instances, the marital home is a huge bone of contention during the division of assets of divorcing couples. Both parties often feel an “attachment” to the home as well as desiring to keep one of the largest financial assets that came out of the marriage. Remember before allowing yourself to act emotionally and demand that you be the one to “get” the marital property…whoever is awarded the home will be solely responsible for the costs of maintaining it. Maintaining a piece of property on your own can be more difficult than at first assumed. Many benefit from a sit down with a financial professional with experience handling divorce issues. Determine whether keeping the marital home is right for you and your family while considering ALL the factors: emotional, financial, practical, etc.

Focus on Being Confident & Positive: Before you speak to the children about the separation/divorce and any coinciding or subsequent relocations, you and your spouse/ex-spouse should be positive about the decision. Do not approach the children with unsure statements or doubtful non-plans. This will only increase their anxiety about the situation. Make your decisions at the grown up table, plan what you are going to say and what answers you are going to give to the most obvious questions that will undoubtedly come up. Be confident, keep it simple and stay positive. This alone can help make the children feel more comfortable with an impending relocation – even if they have a really hard time with the situation as a whole.

Intentionally Make Kids Feel at Home: When divorced parents turn into co-parents, kids live “across” two homes. One or both might be new to them. Regardless of what the exact situation is for your children, take every opportunity to make sure that they feel comfortable at both of their homes. Let them decorate their new bedrooms. Spend time in the new house making new memories: play games together, watch movies, cook favorite meals together as a family, etc. When it is time for the kids to transition between homes, make sure they’ve packed everything and encourage them to take anything specific that will make them feel comfortable wherever they are (i.e. special blanket or toy, favorite clothes, etc.)

Allow Kids Time to Adjust: Kids are not adults yet and they are having to deal with very adult issues. A parents divorce followed by a move is a lot for any kid to manage. Staying positive for them is good, but remember that while it will help…it might not help right away. They might just need time in order to feel better about the situation. Let them have the time they need to adjust on their own terms. Be available to talk, but give them space if they aren’t ready. Give them space, but keep an eye on them so you can make sure they aren’t adopting any unhealthy habits as coping mechanisms.

Relocating after divorce is a challenge, but it can help to consider it as a step forward after difficult times. If you have questions or concerns regarding Arizona divorce law in connection with relocating with your children after divorce, please get in touch so we can help. Experienced Arizona divorce lawyers are ready to discuss your situation at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.

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