After a divorce, many people feel as if they are starting life all over. And sometimes, a change in location allows a fresh start and new opportunities. However, if your divorce involves minor children, don’t start packing just yet.
Maintaining the Status Quo
Although many parents may try to make a marriage work for the sake of their children, if adults decide to end the marriage, there is nothing children can do to stop the divorce. In an effort to protect minors who have no control over their living situation, courts encourage maintaining consistency in the child(ren)’s living arrangement and lifestyle. An important aspect of the “status quo” is geographical location and proximity to both parents. In other words, both parents must remain in the same area so that they both have the opportunity to foster a loving relationship with the child(ren).
For many parents, maintaining the status quo presents no particular challenges or limitations. However, if a parent must relocate to find work to financially support their child(ren) or a re-marriage introduces the prospect of a new home somewhere else in the city, state or further away, moving the child(ren) becomes an issue.
All Moves Matter
No matter how near or how far away you want or need to move, you should consult a New Mexico family law attorney before you relocate your child(ren).
You may have legitimate reasons for moving, for example:
- A job transfer that promises the benefit of job stability and/or increased income
- Moving to a new neighborhood/residence that allows more space, better safety, etc.
- Remarriage to a partner who must relocate for work or lives outside of your city
- Military transfers
But the other parent—or a judge—may not always agree that these moves are in the best interest of the child(ren). An experienced attorney may help you settle disputes and file the necessary motions that may allow you to keep your child(ren) with or near you. But if you move first and the other parents objects, you might risk all kinds of problems. Depending on the existing Parenting Plan (either court ordered or not), even changing schools can be challenged by the other parent.
The biggest mistake parents can make is to make a move and then seek legal counsel. You should not wait until the other parent objects to the relocation of your child(ren). An experienced family law attorney can help you understand what you may/may not do according to New Mexico statutes and your existing parenting plan (if such documentation exists). In the event that there is no parenting plan and/or visitation schedule (as is often the case for parents who were never married), a lawyer can help you develop a plan that provides stability for the child, enables a healthy relationship with the other parent and allows you the most freedom and flexibility in your own life.
Dorene Kuffer has over 30 years of experience with family and child law. She understands the lasting impact that the home environment may have on a child and works to establish a situation that provides the stability and loving support children need. At the same time, Dorene strongly advocates for her clients, aggressively pushing back against unreasonable demands from a parent who may be acting out negative emotions toward the other parent.
If you are considering divorce or are recently divorced and are contemplating a move—whether across town, across the state or across the country—contact the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer. Proactively seeking consultation about your situation can spare you and your child(ren) a lot of unnecessary stress.