Your love for your child did not diminish when you and the child’s other parent broke up. As much as you hoped to continue as a strong and constant presence in your child’s life, the custody order likely divided your time with the other parent. Whether your New Jersey court order or settlement left you with only a few days of visitation or a more equal share of parenting time, your decision to move may be devastatingly difficult.
Moving away from your child may mean a serious revision of child custody plans will be necessary. Depending on how far away you plan to go, your child may need to travel some distance to spend time with you. There will likely be long periods of time when you will not be together, such as during the school year. Child advocates and family researchers recommend that you think very carefully about whether this upheaval is worth it.
What will you miss out on?
Are you moving because of a new job opportunity? Do you have a new spouse who is ready to make a move? Do you want to be closer to your extended family? Whatever your reasons, you will want to keep the best interests of your child at the top of your list. Studies show that children whose parents remain close after a breakup or divorce receive the following benefits:
- Fewer behavior problems in school
- Better social skills growing up
- Less dysfunction in future relationships
- More positive relationships with both parents into adulthood
- Lower anxiety and fewer stress-related disorders
Some separated parents even try sharing the same home after they break up, alternating spending time in the home where the children live. Experts say this is a temporary arrangement at best and is not suitable for all families. Nevertheless, the point is that parents who live close by can equally participate in the day-to-day lives of their children, including homework, school activities, sports participation, bedtime routines and other fundamental parts of childhood.
Ideally, you can make it work right where you are. This may mean looking for a better job locally, encouraging more visits from family or postponing plans until your child is older. However, if this is not possible in your situation, you should prepare for a battle in court if your former partner resists the upheaval your move may cause for the child. You would be wise to build a strong case for making your move and retaining your custody or visitation rights at the same time.