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What should you do if your child wants to live with your ex?

It's a phrase that divorced parents fear hearing: "I want to live with mom/dad." As the custodial parent, hearing your child asserting that he or she does not want to live with you can be heartbreaking.

What can you do? At a certain point, your child does have the right to be heard and to have his or her opinion taken into consideration for custodial purposes. That isn't to say that you have to allow your child to make the change, especially if there is a risk of harm from living with the other parent.

The first thing you should do if this comes up is to talk to your child. What's spurring a sudden request to move in with another parent? Is it trouble at school, problems within your own relationship or another reason altogether? Maybe your child is tired of packing to visit the other parent every weekend, or he or she doesn't like your new husband, wife or partner.

Next, talk to your ex. He or she may not want to change the custody arrangement, particularly if it's working out. Or, he or she might be open to a change and be willing to try it on a temporary basis to see how your child adjusts. You will both need to work together to talk about how the changes could affect your child and encourage good decisions when choosing if you can agree to allow your child to move.

Remember that children don't want to be at odds with their parents, and it's helpful to suggest that if he or she wants to live with the other parent, it's a possibility (unless it truly isn't). Even if it's just for a short time, allowing your child to know that he or she was heard and that you and your ex are in his or her corner can be empowering. If you want to finalize a new custody arrangement after a trial period, your attorneys can help you submit one to the court.

Source: Today's Parent, "“I want to live with dad”," Susan Spicer, accessed Nov. 24, 2016

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