After your divorce, you probably spent a lot of time thinking about what to do next, especially if you moved away from your hometown and family to get married. Now, it may not make sense to you to remain in Pennsylvania if the people who love and support you are in another state. Maybe you already know that there is a good job for you and great school for the kids.

This is where things may become tricky. While there may be wonderful opportunities for you, moving may have a tremendous impact on your children and their relationship with their other parent.

How far is too far?

Every state has different laws regarding the relocation of children following divorce. Relocation — as opposed to simply moving — usually means you are taking your children far enough from their other parent that the distance will limit the face-to-face contact they will share. In other words, your spouse may have to take off work or your children may have to travel by plane to visit each other, perhaps disrupting the court-ordered sharing of custody.

If you have decided that relocating with your children is in everyone’s best interests, you can hope that your co-parent agrees and approves of the plan. Statistically, this isn’t likely. If your former spouse refuses to agree to the idea of relocation, you may be tempted to just pack up and go. However, doing so could land you in trouble with the courts, so family advocates recommend adhering to the legal process.

What can I expect if I try to relocate?

Many parents have gone through this. Those who have attempted to relocate with their children may agree that it is not an easy path to choose, no matter how bright the future may seem in a new town. You will likely face certain difficulties and frustrations, including:

  • Having to prove to the court that the move will not have a negative impact on your children
  • Convincing a judge that the benefits of the move will outweigh the reduced time with the other parent
  • Facing criticism from friends and family who oppose your move
  • Living with feelings of guilt and regret if the court approves your move
  • Accepting that you must stay put if the court denies your petition to relocate

In fact, if your children have a close bond with their other parent, you may have a very difficult time convincing the court that the children will benefit from a separation. Even if a relocation means an exceptional job opportunity for you, closer proximity to your support network, and greater distance between you and the hurtful memories of your past life, a judge is going to consider the well-being of your children first and foremost. While it may seem like an impossible task, with legal advice, you may be able to reach an agreeable solution.