When your teen or pre-teen recently approached you with the request to move in with your ex, you may have felt shocked, perhaps even betrayed. After all, you have worked so hard to maintain as stable a home life as possible since the divorce, and now your child wants to leave.
While it may seem like a devastating blow, it is probably something you have expected, if you are honest with yourself. The way you handle this situation could be a turning point in your relationship with your child.
A difficult conversation
If your child has asked to change residency to your ex’s house, it may be more than just a clash of personalities between you and your kid. Your ex may have something to offer your child emotionally that you can’t give at this phase of life. To seek the best interests of your child, having a calm and frank discussion about the request to move may benefit both you and your child. Some guidelines for this important talk may include the following:
- Taking a few days to think about what you will say before having a talk with your child
- Remaining polite and avoiding personal attacks or outbursts
- Remaining calm and listening when the other is talking
- Keeping an open mind and a willingness to consider the benefits of the change
- Refraining from using the discussion as a time to highlight the failures of your ex as reasons to deny your child’s request to move
- Fighting the urge to take your child’s decision as a personal attack
- Appreciating your child’s courage and maturity in bringing this matter to you
Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to include your ex in the conversation or at least get his or her opinion on the matter. It could be that your child is simply too young to make such a change or that your ex is not able at this time to take on the residential responsibility. However, it may still be good for your child if you take the time to talk it through, even if the answer will be no.
In the event that you decide to change the custody arrangement, you may want the protection of the court by making an official modification to your order, perhaps a temporary modification as a trial run. Your North Dakota attorney can guide you in seeking the best for your child as well as helping you protect your parental rights.