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Handling your child’s request to move in with the other parent

Your child was younger when you first divorced and made custody arrangements. Since that time, your child has lived with you the majority of the time, and your house serves as his or her home base. Where he or she attends school, the friends he or she makes, and other important life factors all originate from this location.

All goes well for some time, but then your child drops a bombshell on you — he or she wants to move in with the other parent full time. As much as you may want to do so, don’t dismiss the idea right away.

How you respond to this request matters

Even though it may be your first reaction, don’t rush to judgment, take it personally or avoid the subject. Instead, you could take the following steps before making a decision:

  • Hopefully, you and the other parent have a good co-parenting relationship, so that you can all sit down and discuss your child’s request as a family.
  • Put your child’s needs ahead of yours. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you may surprise yourself with how selfish you want to be by denying the request so you can continue to have the lion’s share of time with your child.
  • Be willing to listen. As long as your child remains respectful and presents his or her arguments politely, hear out your child because this request is obviously important to him or her.
  • Try to see the situation from your child’s point of view. As they age, children’s needs change, and your child may want to further develop the relationship with the other parent.
  • You should also take the opportunity to express your views, including any hesitations or fears you have regarding this move.

After discussing the matter with your child, you and the other parent can discuss it. If the outcome is that you will grant your child’s request, then you have more work to do. Your child custody agreement will need to change, including changing the visitation schedule and addressing other aspects of it that require modification. In order to make your new arrangement official, the court must approve it. The primary factor in receiving that approval is whether the best interests of your child remain protected under the new agreement.

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