What Happens if One of Us Wants to Move?

Life is not static. Stuff happens, things change, and, sometimes, people move. And, as if life weren't complicated enough, divorce really messes up moving plans.

Honestly, moving is one of the most difficult issues to deal with in divorce. Well, let me take that back, it's difficult if you have kids (if you don't have kids, by all means move away). Here are a few reasons for the difficulty.

Moving Creates a Win-Lose, instead of a Win-Win, Dynamic

In our office, about 80% of divorces are successfully negotiated during the first mediation. This is because we use good mediators, prepare extensively, and negotiate creatively to find solutions. It is also because mediation is about compromising and finding win-win opportunities for both parents. (In other words, you don't get exactly what you want, but you get a good part of what you want (a win) and your spouse gets a good part of what he or she wants (a win).)

When one parent wants to move with the kids, this creates a win-lose dynamic. It's almost impossible for a parent to see how living far away from children is a win.

Many time, if people don't feel like they can create a win-win situation, they lash out and fight, and fight hard. And this leads us to my next point.

Moving Creates Intense Battles Between Parents

You want to see an acrimonious divorce? Try to move and take children away from a parent.

Nothing invokes more fear and anger in a parent than taking kids away. Many see it as the ultimate betrayal and will do anything to keep it from happening.

(Note: this isn't to say one parent won't be able to move. There are situations that absolutely warrant moving. Even in those situations, however, you have to expect a fight.)

It's Very Difficult to Move During a Divorce

Unless both parties fully agree, it's very difficult to move during a divorce.

In our experience, commissioners and judges will almost never allow a move during a case, even if the reason for moving is really compelling. They want parents and children to stay in the same place until the divorce is finished and it's decided how parent-time will be shared. 

So, Will I Be Able to Move after the Divorce?

Being able to move after a divorce really depends on what happens during the divorce. The general rule of thumb is: the more parent-time you are awarded in your divorce, the more likely you are able to move.

So, if you have primary physical custody, and your spouse has minimum parent-time, then it is quite likely you'll be able to move. If, however, you share 50/50 parent-time, then you'll be able to move, but the kids will stay.

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