When your child wants to live elsewhere

As a California parent coping with the aftermath of a divorce, you are likely dealing with your share of adversity. This can become even worse when your child informs you that they want to switch their primary residence. Regardless of whether they want to move to or away from you, it is a difficult conversation that must be approached carefully.

Try to relax and listen to your child

Open and patient communication are what will get you through this situation. The first thing to remember is that you need to stay calm. Taking this personally will only make you look defensive to the child and may make the situation worse. Instead, be open to what your child has to say. You can respond to what you are hearing, but the most important thing is to listen. However, you must set firm ground rules for the conversation, including that your child is not permitted to be rude.

The parents should coordinate

It is best to include the other parent in the conversation. If it is possible, the two parents should be working together. At a minimum, you should talk to your child without badmouthing the other parent. If you find yourself unable to process and handle what you are dealing with, there is nothing wrong with getting some professional help. The best thing to do is to reserve judgment and wait to see how the situation plays out in reality.

If there is a change to the custody agreement, it may require a court hearing in front of a judge. This is even more true if the two parents are at odds with the arrangement. You should retain a child custody attorney to make sure that you are able to effectively present your case to the judge. Moreover, your attorney could advise you how to handle the situation in a manner that will not harm your legal rights. Parents need to proceed with caution during this situation.