How Does Relocation after Divorce Impact Your Children?
There are countless aspects surrounding the divorce experience that parents are faced with when raising children throughout the separation process. Studies show that children are especially prone to the negative psychological effects that accompany the end of their parents’ marriage, due to the fact that they are still developing and learning to process - and cope with - rapidly changing emotions and circumstances. It is understandable, then, how something as anxiety-inducing as moving during or shortly after divorce can trigger a significant psychological struggle for children.
Moving and Divorce: A Psychological Toll
Recent divorce law changes in the state of Illinois now allow the primary residential parent to relocate with their child after divorce, as long as the move is made within a 25-mile radius. Because of this new guideline, that 25-mile radius can actually mean a jump over the state line, depending on which county you live in. Whether you are moving one neighborhood away or using up those permissible 25 miles, studies indicate that moving after divorce can be unsettling for children and can reap long-term psychological effects.
What Studies Suggest
The American Psychological Association (APA) reported studies that were conducted among students from an array of relocation scenarios, including subsets of students who experienced their primary (custodial) parent moving after divorce, and students who experienced no parental relocation at all. In general, the students of divorced families who relocated on some level were found to suffer more distress and perceive their parents in a less favorable light over the long term. Additionally, the students of divorced parents who relocated also experienced less life satisfaction and rated their physical and mental health poorly over time. They also felt more anger and hostility within their interpersonal relationships.
While these findings point clearly to the negative effects of relocation after divorce on children, the authors responsible for the research did emphasize that other important factors, such as the presence and nature of parental conflict, may also play a role in the outcome of the experience for children of divorce. They state these findings alone cannot prove that parental relocation after divorce is solely responsible for a child’s poor psychological health.
Experts in Psychology Today noted that there are ways to curb the stress from parental relocation on children, saying that waiting until your child is at least two or three years old is helpful, as they have better cognitive and language skills to form and maintain long-distance relationships with parents who move away, and a solid parenting plan with clear expectations is a good way to ease your child’s worries.
If you are in the midst of a divorce and plan to relocate, working with a skilled Kane County divorce lawyer can provide you with the insight you need to create an efficient parenting plan and the resources you need to understand your relocation options and any restrictions that may apply to your case. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C at 630-584-5550 today for a one-on-one consultation.