Your child has been living with you during the week and with your co-parent on the weekends. Now, they tell you that they want to switch that arrangement and live with their other parent most of the time.
It can be difficult for any parent to handle such a request (although your child may consider it more of a pronouncement) calmly. However, it’s essential to take a step back from your hurt and anger and listen to what they have to say. Let’s look at some healthy ways to deal with this.
First, take your child’s feelings seriously. Don’t just brush off the request. It may have taken a lot for them to have the courage to ask for this change.
Listen to what your child has to say. Put yourself in their place and try to understand their perspective. Maybe your child’s wish to change their living arrangement has little to do with you. Perhaps their other parent’s home is closer to school, friends and extracurricular activities. Maybe there are others in your home — like a new spouse and stepchildren — who are causing them to feel neglected.
If indeed the problem does lie with you, determine whether there’s something you can change. If you’re working two jobs or have gone back to school, you may simply not have as much time for them as they need.
Then, talk to your co-parent. Find out what your child has said to them. Instead of making it a competition for your child’s love, try to work together to do what’s best for them. Your co-parent may not even want to change the custody arrangements.
You also need to consider your child’s age and maturity. An 8-year-old child could easily change their mind again in a week. That doesn’t mean you should minimize their feelings. However, a teenager likely has given the situation more thought.
Whether you decide to make the change on a temporary basis to see how it works for everyone or to make a modification to your custody agreement, it’s wise to talk with your family law attorney to make sure you’ve considered all of the potential legal and financial ramifications.