When a Child Wants to Live With the Non-Custodial Parent

After your divorce and child custody agreement is over - in some cases years after a parenting plan has been in place - it is normal for a child to express a wish to live permanently with your former spouse.

This is an absolutely normal request, especially as younger children grow older and begin to process the divorce, face social challenges at school, and become better at expressing needs and emotions. But however normal the request, it can present difficulties for everyone in the family as you navigate the pros and cons of the request.

Why Does Your Child Want to Live with His or Her Other Parent?

First, it is vital to determine the sentiment behind your child's request to move in with his or her other parent.

  • Is you child struggling socially at school and wants a fresh start somewhere new?
  • Is your child simply acting out and testing boundaries?
  • Is your child being talked into the change by your ex-spouse?
  • Is your child simply curious about what life with the other parent would be like?
  • Is your child trying to escape pressure or another issue at home?
  • Are you and your child having trouble getting along?

Although it is hard, try to remove yourself emotionally from the situation ("my daughter must hate me to want to leave") and truly determine the real issue at hand.

What is in the Best Interests of Your Child?

When you initially made decisions about child custody during your divorce or break-up, they were based on the best interests of your child. This new decision to change the parenting plan shouldn't be any different. If the circumstances have now changed and your child would benefit from a move, you should seriously consider the change. If, however, your child's wishes are not in his or her best interests, you must explain that to your child as openly as possible. Perhaps also consider changing the visitation schedule to allow a more even split of time between parents.

Remember: significant changes to child custody decisions and Washington State parenting plans may require legal action. If you need the assistance of a Bellevue child custody attorney, call Molly Kenny today at (425) 460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny