For children of divorce, transitioning between two households can be physically and emotionally challenging. Certain children do not necessarily agree with the custody situation set forth by their parents or determined by a judge.
So how do you handle when your child tells you that they want to live with their other parent? While you may undoubtedly feel hurt or saddened, handling your child’s request with an open heart and mind will ensure the healthiest outcome for everyone involved. Consider the following when your child asks to live with your ex:
Encourage Open Communication
It may be tempting to just say no, but shutting down your child’s feelings now will make them have second thoughts about confiding in you in the future. Reassure them that you are not angry and encourage them to share their feelings, fears, and goals with you, even if they are hard to hear. Avoiding the conversation will not make it go away.
Approach the Situation with Empathy
Your experience of the separation or divorce is very different from your child’s. Put yourself in their place and try to understand what they are going through and what may be motivating this request. Considering the other person’s perspective and acknowledging it as different from your own is one of the foundations of meaningful communication.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
You may have feelings of anger, rejection, and fear that your child loves the other parent more than you. Expressing these emotions with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist will help you process and heal those feelings. Being honest about your motivation helps ensure that the decision you make is not based on your own desires, but what is best for your child.
Include Your Ex-Spouse
Many children of divorce casually talk about moving out when the rules at home are too restrictive or if they believe the other parent is more fun. If your child has expressed a rational and considerate argument for living with the other parent, it may be time to bring your ex-spouse into the conversation. Schedule time to meet with your ex and discuss the subject. Healthy co-parenting puts the children’s needs ahead of everything else.
Coming to a Decision
When it is time to decide if a change in residency is best for your child, you and your ex-spouse must ultimately make the final decision. Children, no matter how articulate and mature, are still children. What they want in the present is not always the best thing for their long-term future.
In some cases, children who want to live with their other parent may agree to a shared custody agreement that allows them to spend equal time with both parents. Parents may also consider allowing the child to switch households for a trial period before making a permanent move.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Successfully Resolve Child Custody Issues
Whatever decision you make, consider enlisting professional support. A trusted Towson divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help your family navigate the legal issues associated with divorce and child custody. To schedule a free initial case consultation, call 443-589-0150 or contact us online today. Our offices are located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, and we proudly serve clients throughout the state.