Moving With Your Child Because of Your Divorce
Key Points
  • The marital, or family, home will have memories attached to it, some good, some not so much; do not let those memories cloud an already difficult decision. Maintain routines and any rituals you may have had in the old home but also try to make those routines or rituals just a little different to reflect moving forward.
  • Moving can be difficult, try to make it as positive as possible for you and your children.
  • Divorce may mean that you have to move and moving with your children may not be easy especially if you are forced to move away from areas your children are comfortable with.

During divorce and/or separation it is not uncommon for the custodial parent to move out of the marital home with the child. This typically happens for one or a combination of three reasons.

One, the custodial parent decides to move back to his or her hometown with the child.

Two, the breakdown of the marriage has forced a financial reality check and the marital home is no longer feasible on the new income structure.

Three, the non-custodial parent is very stubborn and refuses to leave, which forces the custodial parent to find a new place to live with the child.

No matter what the reason may be, moving a child, especially far enough in which they would have to change schools and miss friends and relatives, carries added anxiety, stress, and overall emotional trauma on the child. Most psychologists, of course taking all issues into consideration, would probably encourage a parent not to move from the marital home with the child unless absolutely necessary. If the custodial parent can remain in the marital home with the child, the child will be much happier and feel much more secure through the divorce and/or separation.

Strategies and Tactics to Help Your Child Adjust to a New Home:

  • Try to move into a new home that is not far away from the old one. This will potentially allow your child to go to the same school, see the same friends, etc.
  • Give your child enough notice to say good-bye to friends and relatives. Do not surprise your child, he or she may not be as happy or excited as you expect.
  • Brainstorm and write down all the positive attributes about the move and the new home. Constantly remind your child of the these positives.
  • Do everything you can to help your child keep in touch with the friends and/or relatives he or she may be leaving behind.
  • When you arrive at your new home, drive your child around the neighborhood. This will allow your child to get familiar, hopefully excited, about all the new things he or she can do. It can also bring out the similarities of the neighborhood you left, which provides a sense of security.
  • If your child is of the appropriate age, allow him or her to set up their own bedroom. If you notice that the set-up resembles the bedroom at the old home, do not be alarmed, it is just a sign that your child is making him or herself feel comfortable.
  • Try to maintain the same type of routines and rituals in the new home. Dinnertime, Bedtime, After school activities, etc.

Useful Online Tools

Suggested Reading
Creating a Successful Parenting Plan Creating a Successful Parenting Plan
This extraordinary book and computer disk offers separating or divorcing parents a sure-fire way to create a workable, practical parenting plan/agreement that is in the best interest of their children.

Author: Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.

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