When negotiating divorce, mobility issues are discussed if children are involved. Mobility refers to the distance the parents agree that they can live apart, on a particular point on the map, for the parenting plan to work. Often, it’s the child’s school or the centre of town. It’s whatever map point that seems reasonable, at the time. The ‘allowable’ distance from that map point is written in the separation agreement.
Mobility is set in place so that the parenting plan schedule will work and, typically, stays in place until the last child reaches post-secondary education where the kids tend to be the ones moving away from their childhood neighbourhoods.
Where mobility becomes a problem is when one parent decides to move outside of the boundary, often for a job or a new relationship. These issues tend to come back to the divorce professionals to iron out a new parenting plan that will work with a lot more distance between the parents. Often the new parenting plan is skewed largely to one parent over the other as the distance makes it difficult for ‘drop-in’s’ or over-nights when the commute to the child’s school is too far away to be reasonable.
Issues need to be discussed such as which school the children should attend. Should they stay in the same school or move to the new community? Often, these issues come back to mediation or arbitration in order to avoid the court system. In mediation, I try to rework the parenting plan to either involve one parent more during the week and the other during the weekends. Or, perhaps, children live with the one parent more during the summer months. Or, the non-moving parent can consider moving closer to the children by moving into the new community or closer to it so that they can keep the on-going arrangement.
The parent who has the children during school time often has an increased responsibility of being the only contact person should their child become ill or if there is an issue at the school. Typically, when distance isn’t an issue, these problems can be shared between parents.
Older children who need to deal with the mobility issue are often asked their opinion. Mobility can be challenging with older children as they maintain summer jobs which restricts access to both parents but tends to alienate the parent who sees them less due to the distance involved.