Relocating when you are separated with kids
People move for lots of reasons such as a new job, new spouse gets relocated, need to care for a family member, etc. Often newly separated clients ask me if they can move and take their child with them. Unfortunately, the answer is "it depends" and it depends on a lot of things.
Best Interests of the ChildThe Family Court cares about the best interests of the child more than anything - and they should. This can be very frustrating for a recently separated or divorced parent who wants a new beginning. Moving may be a great decision for YOU but you have ask yourself is it best for my child. Whatever benefit your child will get from this new location (better schools, parks, near your family, etc.) must be weighed against the fact that if your child moves she will see the other parent less and that is almost always bad for the child.
So before you get "hot and heavy" with a new person who lives out of state, think about where the relationship may lead. Are you willing to travel to see this person indefinitely? Does this person know that you are 100% committed to staying where you are for the benefit of your child?
The same rationale goes for a change in employment. It is admirable that you want to move up the ladder, make more money, or just live in a better climate. But again this must be weighed against the impact on your child to uproot her from her school, friends, church, and most importantly the other parent.
How far away can you move?It depends but you should be okay if where you want to move to is a place that is close enough for you and your ex to continue the same custodial schedule. Still, that is in the eye of beholder. My Law Office just completed (and won) a three day case where the other side sought to prohibit our client from moving 15 miles (and 20 minutes) away. We had to show the Court the traffic patterns so the Judge knew we were not putting the children in 50-60 minutes of traffic as alleged. I bring this up because other clients say that an hour commute for the children is not detrimental because they do it for their work commute. This is not analogous; children cannot endure that type of commute as well as adults and the Court will not look kindly on a parent that chooses to put them into that situation.
If you must move too far away then you should discuss this with the other parent as soon as possible and coordinate what you will say to the children so as not to put them in the middle. You may also want to enlist help from a child therapist to help the child through this change and create an alternative custodial schedule.