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Helping your kids adjust if you have to move after divorce

When couples with children divorce, the parent who gets primary custody often tries to remain in the family home so that their children don’t have to leave their school, their neighborhood friends and so much else that’s familiar to them. However, that’s not always financially feasible.

If you and your kids are going to move — whether it’s across town to a smaller place or perhaps to another city or state to be closer to family, it’s essential to prepare the kids for the move. Be aware that it will likely add to the anxiety and stress they’re already feeling with the divorce. They’re probably still adjusting to spending time with their other parent in their new residence, and now they’ll have yet another new home where they’ll be spending some or most of their time.

It’s best not to talk to your kids about the move until you’re certain that you’ll be making it. Once you know you’ll be moving, take the time to explain it to them and give them a chance to ask questions. Be positive and even enthusiastic about it, even if you really aren’t.

Give your kids a say in decorating the new home and particularly their bedrooms. This can help them feel like they have some control over the situation. Keep as many familiar routines as possible, like game nights and movie nights.

Make the transitions between your new home and your co-parent’s home as smooth as possible. It may require a longer drive or maybe a subway ride, but it’s best when you and your co-parent can work together to make these journeys easy and fun.

Don’t expect your kids to adjust to the change overnight — particularly if it involves going to a new school, joining new sports teams and not being able to see their best friends every day. Both parents can and should play a role in helping their kids through this period.

Of course, if you’re moving some distance, it’s essential to make sure that the move doesn’t violate any terms of the custody agreement. Also, as noted, the move may require some changes to your parenting time schedule and the logistics of drop-offs and pick-ups. Before you go too far down the road of planning a move, talk with your family law attorney.

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