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What to do when you learn the custodial parent is moving away

Even though your child primarily lives with your former spouse, you do everything you can to ensure that the two of you have a close relationship. However, the other parent is now saying that a move to another state is in the near future.

What can you do to make sure your parent-child relationship does not suffer?

1. Petition the court for custody

If your child is happy and healthy, and the other parent can show the move will be in his or her best interests, you may not have a case. However, if you can prove that it is in your child's best interests not to move, you could have a chance of winning custody. The judge will consider factors such as the amount of time each parent spends with the child now and the closeness of those relationships, how old your child is and how much it could disrupt your child's life to make such a drastic move. 

2. Negotiate for a generous parenting plan

When gaining custody is out of the question, you and the other parent will still have to create a new parenting plan that takes the distance into account. This is your chance to make sure you get as much time as possible. Negotiate for as many of the longer school holidays as possible, and if you can, consider offering to fly down for long weekends when school is out of session on Friday or Monday. 

3. Schedule regular internet visits

You cannot take your child bowling or out to eat every Tuesday anymore, but you can still meet up and do something together online. For example, get together on FaceTime, Skype or some other video messenger program and watch a show together, or just chat about your child's interests and activities.

Although keeping in touch throughout the week through text, email or instant messaging is good, you also want to make sure you are not disrupting the other parent's relationship with your child. You should include a regular afternoon or evening visit in the parenting plan so you will not interrupt family activities. Your child is sure to benefit from the structured schedule as well, knowing that you will always be available for him or her on that day. 

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