Divorcing with kids - do I move closer to family?

I am getting divorced and have two little kids (under 4) and am trying to think through what I want my life to look like and where I’d ideally like to live. I love it up here but none of my family lives in the Bay Area - they all live in So Cal. I could make the move work - my job would support it, it'd be financially better, and I’d have so much support from family and friends. But I am grappling with whether or not it’d good for the kids to move them away from their father. (I don’t know yet if he’d support this but I have a feeling he might.) If I stay, he wants to coparent with me and help me, but he’s in a relationship with a woman whom he had an affair with which is why we’re divorcing. So it’s going to be very hard and painful for me to stay, especially since he’s the only one I can “rely” on up here for help with kids or around the house. I’m so conflicted and feel so much guilt and want to do right by the kids but also need to solve for my sanity and healing. Thoughts?

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Are you sure he will even let you move?  If you split custody, and most divorced parents (I know) now-days do (even if just to limit child support he has to pay), it will be harder to do from a distance so he might oppose it.  Definitely consider if you want to move, but do not get too deep into the planning stages until you find out if it is something you can do.  If he opposes the move away, it will be very hard to get the court to allow it. 

On the surface, it seems like a good idea, if the ex allows it. It was hard for us raising an only child with no family around.

It is possible to have a pretty high quality of life in L.A. with two caveats: 1) pick your neighborhood very carefully. Make sure the neighbors know each other and are friendly.  Some neighborhoods have chilly people hiding behind gates; others are filled with friendly families. 2) Live near where you work and/or where the kids go to school. In the 30 years we lived in L.A. we watched the traffic go from no problemo to nightmarish, far worse than anything here. Multiply by 10 how bad you think it could possibly be and you'll be spot on. If you can be part of a community, and can avoid fuming in your car for half your adult life, you may find it quite pleasant.

I think you need to talk to him first. If he does not allow you to take the kids you cannot move.... but I would not move why should you take all of the responsibility of the kids while he enjoys his life with his new gf? You should stay in town... and co parent It will be better for the kids but I totally understand being in so cal with family and friends... you are in a tough position, Best of luck! 

When I was 16, my mom left from IL for FL with my younger sister when she left my dad. It was really hard for my sister (but there was no support there). I spent a semester there, and that was really hard for me. However, I think you'll do right by your kids by being the best mother you can be, which I think you do by healing as well as you can. To me, that means having family support instead of the pain of being involved with your ex and the person he had an affair with. I do think it will be terribly hard for the kids. Maybe you can try to feel out how your kids would experience the move. There will be big changes whether or not you move.


This is such a difficult situation--I'm sorry! I'm going through a divorce myself (with a 5-year-old in tow). I second the concern about what's legally feasible in your situation. You'd have to be sure that you have your ex's and the court's permission, essentially, especially if you've already filed for divorce or set the process in motion. If your ex fully supports your move (which means it's likely that he'll become obligated to provide child support), then you might be fine. But you'll likely have to produce something contractual, in writing, with both him and the court. 

I can’t imagine my son growing up without his dad, who I’m divorced from. At 5 he had less pain - but he was very pained, he just couldn’t verbalize it, remember that! At 12 he desperately needs his father in his life. Get therapy, move past your anger, and think about your children over the next 20+ years.

Hi! Wish I could send you a PM. 

Will be praying for you and your family. 

I'd take off so fast he'd have to eat my dust. 

The Bay Area is amazing, but family and community are everything when you got young kiddos and need some support. And also listen to your intuition! What’s your gut telling you? 



First, it's generally NOT good for kids to move them away from one of their parents. If you stay, they get to have both parents involved in their lives frequently. If you go, you're taking that opportunity away from them, and that's a pretty big, life-impacting, deal. As the stepmom to a kid whose mom moved away when he was 3, I have firsthand experience with how traumatic and damaging that can be and have seen the long term impact on mental health and self worth. And know that if you want to move, that doesn't necessarily mean the kids would be able to go with you.

In our situation, mom wanted move and take the child, dad wanted to remain involved and asked for 50/50 custody. In the end, the court said if mom moves, primary custody goes to dad. Mom continued the move (the judgement came in the day before she was set to leave), and now only sees her child 3 times each year. I think she's still shocked that a judge wouldn't give primary custody to a MOM.

Courts generally default to 50/50 custody unless there's a good reason not to. What kind of parenting schedule would you propose if you leave, that would get dad to or near 50% parenting time, assuming he wants it? In my husband's situation, the judge set the parenting schedule, and it was 1-2 months with one parent, then the next 1-2 months with the other parent. This was for a 3 year old when it began, and continued until kindergarten (now visits with mom are on school breaks).  Would you be happy not seeing your children for a whole month at a time? Would dad? Would your kids?

It sounds like you're worried about not having support here and what dad's coparenting will look like. If he isn't interested in 50/50 custody and is only willing to be an occasional/weekend dad regardless of where you're at, it may be a different story. First start with how much time the kids will be with each parent, then see if that's possible and feasible with you two living far from each other. Talk to him (or have the lawyers talk if you can't talk to him) about what he is wanting for parenting. And if he says he's going to be involved, then actually isn't and doesn't use his parenting time, then you can ask for a move-away and suggest a parenting plan that allows that and still gives him the amount of parenting time he actually uses. But start with 50/50 and staying here if he'll be involved. Kids need and deserve both parents.