When you got a divorce, you and your spouse were happy to split custody. You both lived close together, and it was easy to share time with your child. Now, that’s no longer the case, and it is beginning to cause problems.

As you’ve worked hard in your company, you’re receiving more opportunities. You want to take one that would require you to move, but you don’t want to leave your child behind. What should you do?

Parental relocation: A hard pill to swallow

There is no question that it’s hard for a parent to discuss leaving a child behind, just like it’s hard for a parent to hear that the other parent wants to take the child a distance away. Relocating is hard on everyone, a child included. It’s important for both parents involved in a relocation case to put their child first.

If your child is old enough to make decisions for him- or herself, it may be worth discussing the move. Teenagers, for example, may be keen to move to try a new school or to meet new people, or they may prefer to stay where they are with the people they know.

As parents, you also need to discuss with one another how relocating affects visitation. It is extremely difficult for parents who live hundreds or thousands of miles apart to make drives or to arrange meet-ups. Cost is a factor, and although virtual visitation is a possibility, it’s not a replacement for time spent with your child in person.

Whether you’re the parent who wants to relocate or the one who is finding out about the potential for the other parent to relocate, it’s a hard situation to deal with. You’ll have financial concerns, personal preferences and modifications to your custody arrangement to discuss.

What should you do if you can’t agree?

If you really can’t come to an agreement about the relocation outside the courts, you can ask a judge to make a decision for you. A judge will listen to what the parent who wants to relocate has to say. For example, if the move would lead to a higher-paying job and the parent and child living closer to relatives, it may seem better to move than if the new job pays the same and the child is being separated from family.

Everyone involved in this situation needs to be clear about their preferences and what happens next. A good plan for the future makes any relocation easier to bear.