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How to prepare your child for a move after divorce

Parental divorce requires a multitude of transitions for kids. They may have to move to a new home or even a new town and new school. They may see one of their parents very little or almost never. Depending on how their parents divide custody of the kids, they may even no longer be living with their siblings.

However, these transitions don't end when the parents separate or even when the divorce is final. For example, a parent may remain in the family home through the end of the school year or until they're able to sell the house.

Moving is stressful for adults and kids alike. However, for a child who's still dealing with their parents' divorce, moving into a new home can be particularly frightening. Even if they're able to stay in their school, they're leaving their neighbors, their yard and their bedroom, which is often a child's sanctuary.

Parents can help kids by taking them on a tour of the new house before they move. Let them see where their room will be and help them visualize where the furniture they're familiar with will go. If you're not able to take them inside the home, at least drive by it so they can see it from the outside and become familiar with the neighborhood. Find the closest park, hiking trail or soccer field.

Throughout the move and afterwards, try to maintain their daily routine as much as possible. Kids are comforted by routines.

If the move is going to require a change in schedule, go over that with your child so they know what to expect. Maybe they'll need to get up earlier to get ready for school. They may need to take the bus home instead of being picked up. Their visitation schedule with their other parent might be changing. The more you can prepare your child for these changes, the better they'll likely be able to handle them.

Stay positive. Even if the move isn't one you wanted to have to make, help your child find things to look forward to. This can help you improve your own attitude about the situation.

Changes like moves, new schools and just the transitions that all kids make as they grow up often necessitate modifications to your child custody and possibly your support agreements. If you need to seek a modification, talk with your family law attorney.

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  1. Charles W. Dobbins, Jr.

    Charles earned his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia in 1974

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