Still Partners? Examining the Consequences of Post-Dissolution Parenting
41 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2007 Last revised: 12 Dec 2007
Parents who divorce or separate are strongly encouraged to co-parent their children. Through co-parenting relationships, whether voluntary or court-ordered, divorced and separated individuals remain closely enmeshed in each others' lives.
The co-parenting approach to post-dissolution parenting conflicts with the dominant model for post-dissolution economic issues: the clean break model. Judges are encouraged to completely untangle all financial entanglements upon divorce or separation. Under the clean break model, divorced and separated parents are supposed to gain economic autonomy. This Article explores a context in which the tension between these two models is most acute: relocation disputes.
Custody relocation doctrine limits the geographic mobility of parents who are sole custodians or majority-time residential parents (hereinafter custodial parents), a restriction not placed on non-custodial parents or parents with significantly less residential time (hereinafter non-custodial parents). This Article includes a review of 612 judicial decisions concerning relocation disputes that appeared on Westlaw over a five year period in order to investigate these effects.
Judicial denials of permission to relocate impose great personal and economic cost on parents whose relocation plans are thwarted, undermining their economic autonomy. As this Article demonstrates, parents seek relocation for a variety of reasons, including remarriage, employment or education opportunities. Their inability to relocate could significantly diminish their lifetime earnings, perhaps making the difference between economic security and impoverishment. Despite the lost opportunity costs borne by custodial parents, no economic remedy is available to a parent denied the right to move. The economic burden of relocation denials falls mostly heavily on women; those who are often already most apt to experience economic disadvantage following a divorce as well.
To date, the substantial relocation scholarship has left untouched an important question: when a court denies permission to relocate, who should bear the economic burden of that denial? This Article argues that where court intervention in post-dissolution co-parenting creates significant economic costs to one of the parents, courts should have the authority to share that cost between both parents through an income sharing approach.
Keywords: family, divorce, child custody, relocation, economics, spousal support
JEL Classification: J12, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation