When Mothers Stay: Adjusting to Loss After Relocation Disputes

33 Pages Posted: 20 May 2014

See all articles by Patrick Parkinson

Patrick Parkinson

University of Queensland

Judith Cashmore

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: May 18, 2014


In determining what outcome is likely to be in the best interests of children, it is necessary to try to predict how each of the parents and the children, will respond to, and cope with, the decision that is made. That is particularly difficult in relocation cases. This article reports on the experiences of 15 mothers over a 4-5 year period following the conclusion of a relocation dispute, and for whom the initial outcome was that they did not move away as they had sought to do. Eight out of fifteen of the mothers indicated that in hindsight, it had been better for their children to stay in close proximity to their father. All of these mothers said the children were "fairly close" or "very close" to their father at the final interview or before. The mothers varied in how well they had coped with the decision, some accepting it, others having adjusted as best they could without accepting it, and a few adjusting poorly. Four factors seemed to have made the most difference in terms of being able to adjust, or not, to the adverse outcome: the degree of control they were able to exercise over their own future; their recognition that the children benefited from a close relationship with their father; the father’s degree of involvement with, and responsibility for, the children, and the level of toxicity in the father-mother relationship. The article concludes by considering possible implications for better decision-making in relocation cases.

Keywords: Family law, parenting, mothers, children, relocation, mobility, moving away, best interests

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Parkinson, Patrick and Cashmore, Judith, When Mothers Stay: Adjusting to Loss After Relocation Disputes (May 18, 2014). Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2013; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/49. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2438528

Patrick Parkinson (Contact Author)

University of Queensland ( email )

Forgan Smith Building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia, Queensland 4072

Judith Cashmore

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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