Moving to a new home can be an exciting change, particularly if you are upgrading to a home with more space, relocating to an area with a milder climate, or moving to a new city for a new job. However, for children who have lived in the same home for most of their lives, moving can be overwhelming.
When parents divorce, children may have a difficult time relocating to another home as well. If you and your spouse are going through a divorce and one or both of you are moving to a new home, there are steps you can take that will help make the moving process go as smooth as possible.
Understand Your State Laws Regarding Moving
Every state has different laws regarding relocating children after a divorce. For example, some states require the custodial parent to notify the non-custodial parent in writing of their intention to move. This gives the non-custodial parent the opportunity to object to the move. Other states have more relaxed laws, and either parent can relocate without any issues.
In New Jersey, if a parent wants to move a child out of state, they must obtain permission from the other parent or the court.
Consider What to Do With the Marital Home
Deciding what to do with the marital home while going through a divorce is a major financial decision. It is highly recommended that you and your former spouse consult with a financial professional who specializes in divorce-related matters. They can work closely with you to weigh the pros and cons of keeping the marital home, and they will help you make the decision that is best for you and your children.
Keep a Positive Attitude
When talking to your children about a potential move, make sure that you and your ex-partner are on the same page in terms of the divorce and who is moving. Practice the conversation so that you know what you are going to say, and allow the children to ask questions as well. The more positive and courageous your outlook is about the move, the more likely it is that the children will feel better about the situation.
Help the Children Adjust to Their New Home
Divorce and sharing time between two homes is a big adjustment for children, and it is up to the parents to make the process as smooth as possible. Encourage the children to decorate their new bedrooms to make them feel more excited about the new space. Spend time together in the new house by playing games, watching movies, or preparing the children’s favorite meals.
Give the Children Plenty of Time to Adjust
Children adjust to their parents’ divorce and relocating to a different home in different ways. For example, young children tend to adjust more quickly to a new home since they have not had a chance to become as emotionally attached to the house as older children.
In addition, if the move involves changing schools, this can be particularly difficult for older children who may not want to leave their school or their friends. Give them time to adjust, but make sure that they are not developing unsafe or unhealthy habits. A school counselor or therapist can help them work through a difficult adjustment period.
What Factors Are Considered if a Parent Wants to Relocate?
If a parent wants to relocate with a child, that parent must be able to prove that there is a legitimate reason for the relocation, the proposed location is reasonable in light of the purpose, and it is in the best interests of the child. Oftentimes, the non-relocating parents will object to the move if they believe it is going to have a negative impact on the child or their relationship with them.
If the parents cannot reach an agreement, they will have to attend a hearing where a judge will decide whether to approve the relocation. Before the parent is granted permission, the court will consider the following factors:
- The parent’s reason for seeking or opposing the relocation. The court will determine whether the parent is moving for legitimate reasons or to deprive the other parent from spending time with the children.
- The quality of the child’s relationship with both parents. The court will be less likely to approve a relocation request if the children have a close relationship with the non-relocating parent.
- How the relocation will impact the child’s relationships with the non-relocating parent. If the move has a negative impact on the existing parenting plan, it is unlikely that the court will approve the relocation request.
- Whether the relocation will improve the child’s life emotionally, economically, and educationally. While a move may be financially advantageous to the relocating parent, the court will have to determine whether it is beneficial to the child’s life.
- The feasibility of maintaining a relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent through a suitable visitation schedule. If the relocation prevents the non-relocating parent from continuing ongoing communication and visitation with the child, the court will likely deny the request.
What Moving Tips Will Help Me Make a Fresh Start After a Divorce?
Moving from one house to another can be stressful, but the following tips can make the process easier:
- Finalize the divorce. Never move out before the divorce is finalized. Even if it is tempting to leave, your spouse can use this against you and accuse you of abandoning your family.
- Determine what belongs to you. Start to take an inventory of what belongs to you and what you want to take. If there are items that your ex-spouse does not want you to take, refer to the court’s decision on ownership.
- Purge items you do not want or need. Throw away any items that you have not used in over a year. Do not keep sentimental items that remind you of your ex-partner. This will help you get a fresh start in your new home.
- Book movers. If you have the budget to hire a moving company, it is highly recommended that you book the movers as soon as possible. If you plan to hand the move yourself, you may want to consider renting a truck or a van to transport all of your furniture and other belongings to the new home. Make sure that you book the truck well in advance, and give friends and family plenty of notice if you need their help.
- Start packing. Before packing up the house, set aside a suitcase for items that you will need access to, including toiletries, medications, and a change of clothes. Make sure that you label all boxes so that you know what is inside each box when you are ready to unpack. If you are moving yourself, with the help of friends and family, make sure that you provide plenty of water, snacks, and consider treating them to pizza or some other type of take-out for helping you move.
- Create a new home. Once you are in your new house, find ways to make it a home, whether that means purchasing new furniture, painting the rooms a different color, or hanging pictures on the walls.
Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Assist Clients With Relocation Issues
If you are going through a divorce and want to make the moving process as smooth as possible, do not hesitate to contact one of our Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. We will walk you through every step of the process. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.