Moving With Kids After Divorce

Moving to a new home is difficult for kids at any age, in any situation. They often feel attached to the home where they've spent most of their time and have all of their memories attached to. When parents divorce or separate, there is typically a relocation involved for one parent or the entire family. Families experiencing a move on top of a divorce are dealing with significant life changes, and while this may be the best decision for the family as a whole, the kids might not see it that way. Moving with kids after divorce will have its challenges, but there are some things you can do to help relieve some of the confusion and stress on both yourself and your kids. Here are some things to consider when moving with kids after divorce:

Know the laws in your state. This is so important for those who are considering moving to a place that is not close at all to where the kids were living pre-divorce. Each state has it's own laws regarding traveling with and relocating kids after divorce, so you cannot guarantee that the laws in your state will be similar to those in others. In some states, the custodial parent is required to notify the non-custodial parent in writing about the move, giving the non-custodial parent a chance to object this and bring the case to court. On the other hand, some states have more relaxed laws regarding travel and relocation, so there might not be much you need to do before moving. While knowing the laws of your state is important, it is also good to understand your custody agreement in case there happens to be a rule that could affect your plans to move. No matter what, you don't want to find yourself facing the consequences of being held in contempt of court. Having to pay a fine or face jail time, for instance, could have a negative impact on you and your kids, so it is to your benefit to take this issue seriously.

Make a smart decision about keeping the marital home. The marital home is often cited as a huge point of contention between divorcing parties. One or both individuals feel tied to the home and try hard to be the one who gets to keep it. Properties are some of the largest financial assets shared between divorcing parties, but maintaining a piece of property on one’s own might be more difficult than it seems. Consult a financial professional who specializes in divorce issues. They will help you to know whether keeping the marital home is right for you and your family’s future. Making a decision about the marital home is often emotional for everyone involved, but it is important to carefully weigh all of the pros and cons involved in order to make the best decision for your family.

Be confident and stay positive. Know that you and your co-parent are completely sure in your decision in regards to the divorce and move before talking to your kids about it. Being wishy-washy about the situation and telling your kids too soon will only cause more anxiety and stress on them. Plan ahead for what you will say and how you will answer the questions about who will live where and when you will move. While it will be a hard conversation to have as a family, it is important as parents to stay confident and positive when talking to the kids about it. Explain what is happening in a simple way that your child will understand. Having a courageous outlook on moving to a new home and expressing that to the kids can help to make them feel better about the situation, even if they are having a very hard time with it at first.

Help them to feel at home in both homes. If you and your co-parent are sharing parenting time, your kids will inevitably be living across two homes. One or both homes might be brand new, but whatever the situation may be, they should feel comfortable in both places. Let your kids be involved in decorating their new bedroom(s). This can be a fun way to help your kids feel more excited about moving to a new place. Help to make them feel more at home by spending time in the new house and creating memories while doing fun things together like playing games, watching funny movies, or cooking their favorite meals.  When your kids must transition between homes during parenting time exchanges, be sure that your kids have packed everything that makes them feel most comfortable no matter where they are, like special toys or favorite clothes. 

Give your kids time to adjust. Dealing with their parents’ divorce and moving on top of that is a lot for any kid to handle. Very young kids might be quicker to adjust, as they may have made fewer attachments to their previous home. Older kids may have a more difficult time with relocating to a new neighborhood or school, as they probably have made close friends that they don’t want to leave. Again, stay positive in talking to your kids about it. Try and assure them that they will surely meet new people and new friends, and that their old friends will still be there. While this might help to make them feel a bit better, it might also not do much for them right away. Give your kids time to adjust on their own terms. Keep the conversations going about how they are handling the transition, but also give them some space if they don’t want to talk about it right then. While you give them space, also maintain an eye on them to make sure that they aren’t slipping into unhealthy habits. If you notice something that concerns you, consider talking to someone about it such as their school counselor or a therapist.

Although it may feel challenging at first, moving with kids after divorce is one step towards moving your family forward after a difficult time. It is a process that might take some time, but once settled in your new home, you will have a chance to begin forging new memories and creating a life in your new space.