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Relocating children after divorce may cause long-term problems

Children of divorced parents who are separated from one parent due to the custodial or non-custodial parent moving beyond an hour’s drive from the other parent are significantly less well off on many child mental and physical health measures compared to those children whose parents don’t relocate after divorce, according to new research. The findings, say the study authors, cast doubt on the current legal presumption that a move by a custodial parent to a destination that the moving parent believes will improve his or her life will also be in the best interest of the children that moves with them.
From American Psychological Association:RELOCATION OF CHILDREN AFTER PARENTS’ DIVORCE MAY LEAD TO LONG-TERM PROBLEMS, STUDY SUGGESTS

WASHINGTON ? Children of divorced parents who are separated from one parent due to the custodial or non-custodial parent moving beyond an hour’s drive from the other parent are significantly less well off on many child mental and physical health measures compared to those children whose parents don’t relocate after divorce, according to new research. The findings, say the study authors, cast doubt on the current legal presumption that a move by a custodial parent to a destination that the moving parent believes will improve his or her life will also be in the best interest of the children that moves with them.

The study appears in the June issue of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Journal of Family Psychology, a special issue on linkages between family psychology and the law, and is the first study to provide direct evidence of the effect of relocation on children after divorce.

Psychologists Sanford L. Braver, Ph.D., Bill Fabricius, Ph.D., and Law Professor Ira Ellman (the primary drafter of the American Law Institute’s recently released Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution) of Arizona State University conducted their research by dividing 602 college students into groups on the basis of their divorced parents’ move-away status. One group consisted of those in which neither parent moved more than an hour’s drive from the original family home and the other consisted of students with at least one parent who had moved more than an hour’s drive from the original family home. Both groups were tested on various measures of psychological and emotional adjustment, general life satisfaction, current health status, their relationship to and among the parents and perceptions about having lived “a hard life.” The students were also assessed on the extent of financial help they were currently receiving from their parents.

Results show significant negative effects associated with the long distance (more than an hour’s drive) parental moves by the mother or father, with or without the child, as compared with divorced families in which neither parent moved away beyond an hour’s drive. “As compared with divorced families in which neither parent moved, students from families in which one parent moved received less financial support from their parents (even after correcting for differences in the current financial conditions of the groups), worried more about that support, felt more hostility in their interpersonal relations, suffered more distress related to their parents’ divorce, perceived their parents less favorably as sources of emotional support and as role models, believed the quality of their parents’ relations with each other to be worse, and rated themselves less favorably on their general physical health, their general life satisfaction, and their personal and emotional adjustment,” according to the study.

While the results of the study do show many poor outcomes are associated with postdivorce parental moves, the authors warn that the results are correlational and cannot prove that the moves are the main or even a contributing cause of the negative effects. Additional longitudinal research is needed, say the authors, which controls for factors that also may play a role, such as premove parental conflict. Alternative explanations for the results could include that moving per se tends to be harmful for children, that families with characteristics that are harmful for children also tend to move or a combination of both or other factors.

However, the researchers conclude, “there is no empirical basis on which to justify a legal presumption that a move by a custodial parent to a destination she or he plausibly believes will improve their life will necessarily confer benefits on the children they take with them.”

Article: “Relocation of Children After Divorce and Children’s Best Interests: New Evidence and Legal Considerations,” Sanford L. Braver, Arizona State University, Ira M. Ellman, Arizona State University and University of California, Berkeley and William V. Fabricius, Arizona State University; Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 17, No. 2.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/fam/press_releases/june_2003/fam172206.html




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5 thoughts on “Relocating children after divorce may cause long-term problems”

  1. Take things to their logical conclusion. Fathers and children diserve a relationship. But how many times is the mother selfish or using the court system and the father as a tool to hurt the father? In the process the courts and the mother end up hurting the child as well. The child is a composite of both parents and to tell the child that dad “doesn’t matter”, which is exactly what you are communicating to the child, and what many malicious mothers want expressed flagrently to hurt any good dad in the worst way, is to tell the child 1/2 of them does’nt matter either. How is this in the “best interest of the child”? It is not.

    Further, losing one parent is a debate for you? Not if you are the parent and/or child and not if you know you are a good parent. The only ones who would agree with move aways are feminists “helping women” and lawyers and the government who make money by this legalized kidnapping. Again, how often are you feeding into the malicious plans of a malignant mother when you allow this?

    If there is a move, and the mover is making an improvement in their life financially, let them compensate the parent left behind who now will have added costs and burdens to see his own child. Why doesn’t the family court system look at what would be just instead of ruinning the father’s life. It is no wonder many fathers simply give up. They have nothing left.

    Move aways have so many ramifications and place an extreme strain on the relationship of the father and child. Is this not playing into the malicious mother’s goal? As a separate unit, this not only wreaks havoc with the bonding of father and child, but the places financial burdens, time burdens and oftne loss of career as the father struggles to maintain a relationship with the child. With the malicious mother moved out of state, what is to stop her from starting to make excuses, “car doesn’t work”, “junior wants to go over a friend’s this weekend”……….What protection does the father and child have against this abuse? Unless he has infinite amount of money and can pull strings, the average father will have NO recourse.

    The reality is mothers can be abusive. In these cases, abusive mother displayed abusive and selfish behavior in the marriage. And then placed all the blame on the father. Go to court, vilify him and get everything, including being able to move out of state eventually. the mother, who receives a professional degree for a better life out of state was more than likely helped by her husband and was supposed to give him a hand up the ladder. Instead, she gets what she wants from him, blames him, divoreces, moves out of state all with the full blessing of the state.

    Good fathers are then not allowed to be fathers and abusive mothers are rewarded and encouraged by a corrupt system. This is from a “family” court system that many people would describe over all as incompetent or biased against fathers. These are violations of basic human rights of fathers and children.

  2. The insufficiency of contact is one of the primary reasons of divorce. A relationship is on trouble when the communication between the couple fails. An effective relationship cannot be obtain if either one of you will not discuss and share your feelings, cannot express about your mutual as well as private concerns, will keep your resentments simmering with wraps, and count on your partner to guess just what the overall dilemma is about. It would be more advisable to avoid the causes of divorce. Prevention is better than cure.

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