When a child expresses his or her desire to move in with a noncustodial parent, the parent who has custody may experience a range of emotions. For example, the parent may wonder what he or she has done wrong, experience jealousy or, in some situations, become very concerned that such a move is not in the best interests of the child. While these emotions are normal, parents need to avoid expressing them in front of the child. Instead, the child’s needs should be prioritized and discussed without bad-mouthing the other parent or burdening the child with feelings of guilt.
If a change of residency does not put the child at risk, it may be wise to open a conversation with the other parent. He or she might have views on the subject, which may include concerns about current work schedules and the feasibility of a significant change in custodial arrangements.
Individuals who are considering altering their current parenting plans may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. The lawyer could review the client’s current situation and make recommendations regarding possible modifications. If there is a conflict over a child’s desire to change residency, an attorney may recommend mediation, counseling or begin negotiations with the other parent’s attorney.