Re-Homing: When your kid wants to live with the other parent

Child custody can be one of the most difficult things to handle during a divorce proceeding, and it can become even more complicated when after custody has been decided, the child later wishes that they could live with the other, non-custodial parent. In the article “Dealing With A Child Who Wants To Change Residency,” by the Separated Parenting Access & Resource Center, it is said that the cause for a child to want to change custody is often due to emotional conflict between the child and custodial parent.

“When a child’s needs and desires to be with the non-custodial parent are stronger than the desire to be with the custodial parent, this is a clear sign that the child is having emotional conflict and that something is not right in the relationship with the custodial parent.”

What factors can lead to a good case for re-homing?a good case for re-homing?

The court will be extremely cautious when changing the decided custody arrangement for children from the age of nine to 12 unless severe emotional distress or conflict can be proven, but there are factors, that if present, may persuade the court to re-evaluate their original decision. Some of the factors include:

  • The noncustodial parent lives in the same area
  • The child is strong willed
  • The child is having problems at school due to the conflict
  • The noncustodial parent can prove they can provide better for the child
  • Other siblings already live with the noncustodial parent
  • The child is suffering from physical or mental abuse in their current living situation
  • Third parties such as teachers, therapists, etc. support the change

Factors that could hurt your chances for changing your child’s residency

While there are factors that can prompt the court to look into the change of residency, there are also factors that can cause them to deny the claim quickly. Some factors that can work against a noncustodial parent gaining custody include:

  • The noncustodial parent lives a distance from the child’s current residence
  • The child is performing well in their current school
  • The noncustodial parent cannot prove they can take care of the child better
  • The other siblings in the home do not want to change residence
  • There is no push from third parties to make the change

Determine why your child wants to make the move

It is essential to ascertain the reasons that your child wants to make a move whether it is abuse, neglect, emotional difficulties, or the in the inability to visit with the noncustodial parent as much as they would like. Also, determine how strongly they feel about wanting to move.

Seek third-party involvement

Have your child speak to third parties to help get an honest, impartial assessment of what the problem may be and how best to help your child. This can include doctors, neighbors, teachers, therapists, or other agencies. This information is also an important piece to have if you need to present the court with evidence of why the move is necessary.

Develop a sound parenting plan

The court will not only want to have validations of the reasons that it will be in the child’s best interest to move but will also want to make sure that you have a plan to address the issues and rectify the situation in the child’s new environment. This can include things like therapy plans or plans to improve school work or school behavior. This will show the court your desire to act in the best interest of your child and also how you plan to do so.

Have a home environment evaluation completed by a professional

When a child is moved into a new residence, it is important to the court that the home meets the needs to care for the child and is safe and appropriate. Such things as a child having their own bedroom as well as having everything they need to feel safe and provided for is vital when placement is being determined. With this evaluation, you will be able to confidently enter court knowing your home is considered an approved environment for your child.