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Relocating may not be in a child’s best interests

Many issues in a separation can have middle grounds that allow for negotiation and cooperation. When it comes to relocating with a child, there often is not much room for negotiation. Child relocation is when a custodial parent moves out of Pennsylvania or to another area in Pennsylvania that is far away from the non-custodial parent. Perhaps you do not have to imagine how difficult and painful this decision can be.

If your child’s other parent is making plans to relocate with your child, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent this move. You do have the right to contest the move and to request that the court deny permission for your ex to take the child. However, this is not always an easy process.

The benefits of staying close

While you may not want to try birdnesting, in which parents share a home and alternate living there with the children, you likely want to be close enough to be an active participant in your child’s life. Carpools, teacher conferences, little league games and dance recitals may be difficult to be part of if the child lives more than an hour away.

More importantly, you may worry about the disruption in your child’s life, especially if you are actively involved with the child now. The research is on your side. In fact, more and more studies show that having access to both parents, even parents who do not get along, can have many positive effects over the child’s lifetime, including the following:

  • Children whose parents remain geographically close report struggling less with anxiety and have a higher self-image later in life.
  • Children whose parents live close have a stronger sense that both parents are interested in them and their wellbeing.
  • When divorced parents do not relocate, their children seem to adjust better to the changes a divorce brings.
  • Non-custodial parents who remain close with the children are likely to be more generous with financial support of the child than those who seldom see the children due to distance.
  • Children whose parents do not move away report having stronger emotional connections with both parents and less hostility toward them, even after they leave for college.

Of course, whether to stay or move away is a highly personal matter, and your ex may have reason to believe the move will benefit the child more than remaining where they are. Nevertheless, the prospect of having your child move away may be worth building a case for denial of the relocation or at least the revision of your parenting plan to allow more contact with your child.