Moving Away After Military Divorce

Posted on Apr 3, 2013 by Katie Carter

There are a lot of people who live in the Hampton Roads area because the military brought them here, and for no other reason. For many area women, they have followed their husbands here because it was where he was stationed, but their families, job experience, and other connections are elsewhere. When the marriage fails, its natural that the non-military spouse wants to return to her home. Without her husband, she has no connection to this area and no desire to remain here.

The problem arises when there are children. While dad is stationed here, at least, the law is against mom moving. If dad gets stationed somewhere else, though, all bets are off.

Though the law is definitely against allowing the non-military parent to relocate away from where the other parent has no choice but to stay. This is extremely frustrating for moms who feel no tie to the area at all and would prefer to return to a place where they would have a better support network.

Dads play a large role in the difficulty with relocation. Without his permission, the court probably wouldn’t allow mom to relocate very far from where dad is stationed—because it’s just too much time that the child has away from dad.

There’s no question that not living geographically close to your child’s father makes custody and visitation a LOT more difficult. Instead of sharing responsibilities with the child and establishing a sort of standard visitation arrangement (every other weekend, some time during the week, a vacation during the summer), you’ll have to think of solutions for a much more complicated situation. Instead of every other weekend, you may have to give dad a big chunk of the summer instead (think: 8-10 weeks!). When you can’t easily shuttle the child back and forth consistently, the time that dad does get will be much more substantial.

Still, if you’re feeling the pull to a different geographic area, you may be willing to consider an alternative custody and visitation arrangement. Financially, it may seem like your only option—because of the additional support from friends or family members you would have, as well as increased economic opportunities.

If you find yourself in this position, you may have the best success talking to your husband about what kind of support you’ll need if you stay. If you can’t live with your sister, share a nanny, and return to your old job in your hometown, you’ll need more support. If you stay in Hampton Roads, where you know no one and can’t get any help, it may be harder to work at a job—assuming, of course, that you can even find someone to hire you.

Support arguments are often successful with dads who would prefer to keep more of their income for themselves. Still, it’s a good idea to consider the advantages and disadvantages of relocation before you make a move that you’ll later regret. In most circumstances, the relocating parent pays the cost of the child’s travel back and forth for visitation (and, if your child is young, that could mean purchasing your own companion ticket to take the child to and from visitation), not to mention the long periods of time in the summer that you may be without your child. Think about it, and then do the best you can to negotiate with your child’s father for whatever custody and visitation arrangement you feel is in their best interests.