What Parents Must Know About Moving Out & Away

Divorce is known for being complicated and stressful, even when couples manage to have an amicable divorce. It’s understandable considering the number of financial matters that must be addressed, the change in residential status, and the issues revolving around property division and child custody.

If you’re a parent who is getting a divorced, there’s a lot to consider, especially in regards to your living situation. Do you move out? Does your spouse move out? Do you both move out and put the house on the market? Do you take the kids and move in with your folks? Do you move back home to the East Coast? If you’re considering these types of options, you may not realize it but how, when, and where you move can be critical to your divorce, but it depends on your circumstances.

Questions to ask yourself about your living situation:

  1. Do I want to move out alone?
  2. Do I want to stay in the family home with our children?
  3. Do I want to move out with our children?
  4. Do I want to move out of the county or state with my children?
  5. Do I want to move far away alone, leaving my children with the other parent?
  6. How does my spouse feel about my wishes?

1. Do I Want to Move Out Alone?
If you want to move out alone, this could be a non-issue if you do not plan on asking for custody of the children most of the time. If you intend to have your children live with the other parent and you move out, just be aware that you are sending a powerful message to the court that your spouse is capable of taking care of your children. If you intend to seek joint or sole physical custody, you should NOT move out until you speak to an attorney and have a temporary custody order in place.

2. Do I Want to Stay in the Family Home with Our Children?
If you desire to stay in the family home with your children, the question is, can you afford to keep the house? If you can afford the rent on your income alone, that’s great. But if you have a mortgage, the ideal solution is to refinance the mortgage in your name alone. If you can’t qualify, you should think about selling the house and splitting the profit, if there’s any equity in the house.

3. Do I Want to Move Out with Our Children?
Suppose you can’t afford the house, or you want to move across town with your kids to be with your family. In the absence of domestic violence, you should not venture out of the house until you talk to a divorce attorney. He or she may recommend securing a temporary child custody order before you hand your spouse your set of the keys. You see, if child custody is an issue, your spouse can accuse you of kidnapping your children and this tactic can be prevented by going to court first.

4. Do I Want to Move Out of the County or State with My Children?
A lot of parents do not take kindly to estranged spouses who run off to another state or country with their kids. If you desire to move to another state or country, you should get it in writing through the court, whether that involves obtaining the other parent’s consent or not. If your soon-to-be-ex spouse is contesting your move with the kids, you will need the court’s blessing, otherwise you’re going to face an uphill battle that you may not win.

5. Do I Want to Move Far Away Alone, Leaving My Children with the Other Parent?
This happens sometimes, usually because a parent wants to move to be closer to their family, or to take advantage of a promising career opportunity. If you desire to move to another state, leaving your children behind with your spouse, think about how this is going to affect your relationship with your children. Is the move in their best interests? Can you maintain meaningful contact with them through social media, email, texts, and Face Time, and Skype? Can you afford to pay higher child support and travel costs for visitation?

6. How Does My Spouse Feel About My Wishes?
This can be a critical factor. If your spouse supports your wishes, then great! All you need to do is get this in writing – through a well-drafted Parenting Plan and marital settlement agreement. However, if your spouse strongly disagrees with your desires, whatever they may be, you’ll need to convince a family court judge that what you want is in your children’s best interests.

Suppose you’re a stay-at-home mother whose children are being abused by their dad. If you were asking the court to let you move from LA to Colorado to be closer to your folks so they can help you with the kids as you get back on your feet, the court may approve your request if it can be shown that your husband is dangerous to you and your children.

On the other hand, if you want to move to Colorado but your husband is a warm and loving father who is fighting you on the move, the court may not agree since the move would put a wedge in your children’s relationship with their father. So, the outcome of a move-away case comes down to: your wishes, your spouse’s wishes, your children’s wishes, and whether the move would be in the children’s best interests.

Related: 9 Child Custody Tips for Your Case

If you are divorcing and anticipate an issue over the living arrangements and child custody, contact our Los Angeles family law firm today.