Relocation of Children after Divorce and Children's Best Interests: New Evidence and Legal Considerations
45 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2002
Date Written: May 21, 2002
State courts have rightly termed relocation cases, in which a custodial parent's desire to move away with the child is opposed by the other parent, one of the knottiest and most disturbing problems courts face. The recent trend is to permit such moves. This trend was encouraged by Judith Wallerstein's influential but controversial amica curiae brief in the California Supreme Court case of Burgess v. Burgess, which argued that allowing such moves is generally in the child's interests because social science evidence shows that in general, what is good for the custodial parent is good for the child. Subsequent papers have challenged Wallerstein's characterization of the social science evidence, but in fact there has been no single study offering direct evidence on this question. The current study, which divides college students whose parents were divorced into groups based upon their parents' moveaway status, sought such direct evidence. We find statistically significant differences favoring children of divorce whose parents did not move, on a variety of outcomes, as reported by the students themselves. These results suggest that the child's interests require separate consideration from that of the custodial parent's in the rules by which such relocation cases are decided.
Keywords: Child custody; divorce, relocation
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation