Family Interests in Competition: Relocation and Visitation
26 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2007
This article examines one of the most difficult family law issues in modern society. As divorce has become more common, and women have gained greater economic and social freedom, the issue of how to deal with a custodial parent who wants to relocate a considerable distance from the noncustodial parent (perhaps to be with a new spouse, to take a new job, to enter an educational program, or simply to change geographical location) the courts are confronted with a direct challenge to the historical policy of having both divorced parents with regular and frequent contact with the children. There has been some movement toward greater liberality in authorizing relocation of a custodial parent, although with some adjustment of the visitation time allowed to the other parent. However, the issue of relocation has been further compounded by the growth of the father's rights movement, which has successfully lobbied legislatures to enact joint custody laws which encourage both shared legal custody and shared physical custody. Shared physical custody is essentially incompatible with substantial distance location on the part of one parent, and suggested solutions such as virtual visitation by use of computer technology has found little support in the courts. The article examines these trends and finds that there is little national consensus on how to deal with an issue which promises to put the various competing family interests into competition.
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