Troubled couples considering divorce and moving out of state should check with the other state's residency laws before relocating. In most cases, states require a time period for establishing residency before filing for divorce. Making a move also involves other considerations: child custody; modification to a final decree; alimony; child support payments; or non-custodial parental visitation rights. While relocating might seem like an attractive option, especially to put some distance between ex-spouses, a long distance move requires considerable forethought. The best decision for parents with minor children might be to complete filing procedures in the state of residence before attempting to make a fresh start in a new location. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit" (Ecclesiastes 7:8).
Former spouses required to pay alimony might be concerned about where an ex-spouse lives, mainly because regardless of a decision to divorce and moving out of state, the bills must still be paid. The court has already placed that burden on the obligor. The cost of living in another state might necessitate a modification in alimony payments, as the recipient may require more expensive housing, food, clothing or transportation. An increase in alimony might present a problem, especially for the obligor who may have other financial obligations, especially if they have remarried or must support another family. Ex-spouses should, therefore, take time to discuss and weigh the effect of relocating before over-taxing and overwhelming a former mate. Even during the breakup of a marriage, dealing fairly with a former mate demonstrates the love of Jesus Christ, making the situation more palatable for all concerned. "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;" (I Corinthians 13:4-6).
Child custody or child support cases will also be affected by divorce and moving out of state. While payments can be transferred from state to state with little difficulty, providing for a minor child in another region of the country might necessitate increasing the amount of financial support. For instance, a single mother with a school-aged child relocating to California from Michigan will have to pay more for housing, education, transportation, etc. But a cross-country move to a more expensive state with a higher cost-of-living will affect the non-custodial parent's ability to provide for the minor child in a manner they were accustomed. Not only will the single mother pay more for standard housing, but also medical expenses. Doctors on the western coast are more expensive than in Michigan. The cost of living in general, may well exceed what a non-custodial parent will be able to bear.
The ramifications of divorce and moving out of state also impact the non-custodial parent's ability to comply with court-arranged visitations. If a thirty-minute drive across town turns into a five-hour flight, a custodial parent might be unable to keep bi-weekly visitation rights. Altering visitation, from a child's perspective, can be very problematic. In spite of marital differences or emotional conflicts, children need both parents in order to develop optimally or have a sense of security. Custodial parents who consider divorce and moving out of state should really assess the emotional impact of separating a minor from a mother or father. Moving away from an ex-spouse might help bring a measure of closure to a bad marriage; but parents must ensure that the door is not closed to children who want to maintain a fulfilling relationship with the ex-spouse. Aside from losing a parent in death, going through a divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences children can have. After a marital breakup, relocating can place unnecessary emotional strain on youngsters. Children may rebel by acting out in anger, getting into fights with siblings, cutting class, or performing poorly in school. Custodial guardians may need to seek professional or spiritual counsel to determine and avoid the adverse impact such a move can have on minors.
Another consideration for ex-spouses contemplating divorce and moving out of state is the lack of an adequate support system for school-aged children or teens. Moving from one state to another requires changing schools, changing neighborhoods, and making new friends. But living near a non-custodial parent provides a measure of security, especially during an emotional upheaval like the breakup of a marriage. In a crisis, children adjust better when familiar surroundings are disrupted as little as possible. After undergoing adjustments made due to a divorce, having the ex-spouse in as close proximity as possible can provide a level of emotional security to ease the transition. Of course, that is if the relationship was close before the breakup.
Filing for divorce and moving out of state also carries certain legal implications. The process to petition for dissolution of a marriage can still move forward, but there may be some long distance communication required which can add to costs. Before the final decree is issued, out-of-state ex-spouses may also be forced to travel, which could delay proceedings or again, add considerable expense. Divorcees must bear in mind that the state of residency where an ex-husband or wife first filed the petition still has jurisdiction; therefore, the new state of residency has no bearing on the judgment or proceedings. Divorce and moving out of state can also further complicate modifications to final decrees, as ex-spouses may not be readily available to compile documentation to substantiate a request for increased alimony or child support payments. In the final analysis, exercising patience might make the process of relocating after divorce a lot smoother for everyone involved.