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Relocation in Divorce

Relocation divorce issues are a powerful and often confusing mixture of finance and emotion. Relocation issues can be most complex. We will look at:

Further along in this article we will be reviewing:

  • Relocation and children of divorce
  • Financial implications of divorce and relocating
  • Can you be forced to move out?

The financial issues of course involve setting up two occupied and livable properties where there used to be one. There is much truth in the old saying that two can live as cheaply as one. The emotional issues involve both the abandonment by one or both parties of a place that has come over the years to be known as home. These emotions affect the children of divorce as well as the divorcing parties, and require carefully thought out decisions.

Some Cons of Relocation

The financial issues involved in relocation almost always fall into the "cons" half of this equation. If one party retains the former residence while the other leaves, the party that stays faces the challenges of solely maintaining a residence that used to have two parties keeping it functioning, while the party relocating is in effect starting a new residence from scratch. If both relocate because they wish to be near a new support system or because neither party can effectively maintain the former residence, then both are starting from scratch. All of this must be accomplished with resources that have been divided, perhaps not equally, in the divorce settlement and with former resources depleted to some extent by payments for fees and lawyers and the entire legal system that runs the divorce process.

The relationship between the two parties will be further strained by this, and it is important to a swift and equitable divorce agreement that the parties stay on the best terms possible. Continuing to live together through this time rather than one party leaving early will in effect force the two parties to stay in contact.

Unfortunately, this effect could also intensify the discord between parties that have already developed sufficient problems to seek divorce. Maybe in that case it is not so wise to delay relocation by one party. However, relocation by one party before the divorce settlement should be closely discussed with your divorce attorney. It may cause ambiguities for the court to resolve in the issue of who owns what, and could even cause the relocating part to lose reasonable access to important documents that will be needed for the divorce settlement.

A growing trend that should be carefully considered is for the parties to maintain a common residence for some period of time and under well defined rules. While the emotional aspects of the divorce must be carefully considered to determine if this will work, it is a workable option for many who cannot bear the financial burden of relocation, at least for a while longer.

Custody and Moving

Custody of the children is of course a crucial issue in the divorce process. The good news here is that relocation by one or both parties should in no way affect the decision of child custody. Still, it is wise to discuss this issue in detail with you divorce lawyer.

There is more to dealing with custody and moving than just financial issues, and that is of course the effect on the children. If a workable deal to maintain joint occupancy can be worked out, this will of course help keep both parties in contact with the children. However, if the couples simply cannot resist arguing in front of the children this benefit will be lost or perhaps even become a detriment to everyone, including the children, moving on to new lives.

The issue of maintaining a good parental atmosphere for the children is critical, and also has an effect on where a relocating party moves to. Simplistically, the further away the two parents live makes the burden on the children greater and greater. Consult our section on Children and Divorce for more detailed information.

You Cannot be Forced to Relocate

Keep in mind that these issues must be resolved in a joint manner between the parties. One party cannot legally demand that the other leave. Unless it can be shown that the continued presence of one party would result in material or emotional harm to the children, both parties have the full legal right to maintain residence until the divorce settlement takes effect.

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