How Can Parents Address Relocation Issues in Divorce Mediation?

NYC divorce and family mediator, Susan Ingram, discusses how mediation can help couples in post-divorce parenting, specifically when a parent may have to relocate.
Home moving / Car and trailer relocating house

{Time to Read: 3.5 mins}

An important issue that divorcing couples with children need to discuss during mediation is where they will each be living and whether or how that will affect their ability to be with their children on a regular basis. This is so whether the parents have designated one of them as the primary residential parent, or whether they are sharing residential custody 50/50. See my prior article on custody arrangements here.

The settlement agreement I prepare for the couple contains language regarding residential custody, relocation, and a parenting plan detailing the arrangements they have agreed upon for weekdays, weekends, holidays, etc.

Many of the parents I work with are already living quite close to each other in order to spend the maximum amount of time with their kids. In those instances, I typically include language similar to one of the following two passages:

  • A statement that neither one may move his or her home beyond a specific distance (such as, beyond a 10- or 20-mile radius of their current home) without the written consent of the other.
  • A more general statement that if either party moves to such a distance that the parenting plan becomes impracticable, then the parties will return to mediation to discuss and revise their arrangements.

Of course, in those instances where the parents are already living far from each other, other arrangements need to be explored and stated in the agreement. One of my couples, Janet and Bill, had a 7-year-old son, Adam. While Janet was continuing to live with Adam in the same community in New York, Bill had already moved his home and business to Chicago.

They worked out a parenting plan that gave Bill chunks of time (10 days per month) during which Bill would come to New York to be with Adam. They agreed to select the specific dates at least two months in advance, so that they could both plan their schedules. They also agreed that Adam would spend several weeks over the summer with his father in Chicago.

Janet and Bill’s agreement (as well as all of my couples’ agreements) contained language that they would return to mediation if they needed to revise their parenting arrangements for any reason. For instance, in addition to changes in the parents’ schedules and locations, revisions may need to be made to accommodate changes due to a child’s developmental, social or emotional needs.

The beauty of mediation is that parents work together, jointly and cooperatively on these issues when they first mediate their divorce and settlement agreement. Thereafter, they can use the same mediation process to constructively address any changes that may be necessitated.

How is your parenting plan working? Please feel free to share your experience with others, using the comments box below.

 

Comments from Social Media

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Very true….In mediation only the parents know what is best for themselves, family and their children. Mediation allows the couple to have final say in what the plan is for not only address relocation, but all other issues which need to be decided when considering separation, divorce and post divorce issues.

Jeffrey Bloom, Mediator

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Susan, not only does it make sense for a divorcing couple to agree to return to mediation, when that model works successfully for them now, and when the couple encounters new parenting issues in future, but I have begun to suggest that couples who have successfully collaborated agree to collaborate when THEY encounter new issues. So far, they have agreed that such a plan makes sense.

Joryn Jenkins, Collaborative divorce Attorney

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