For government workers who have gotten divorced, relocation based on a career move is a real issue. These jobs often span the country and even the world. For some employees, that's part of the allure of the job - traveling the world and having life experiences that would be impossible if pinned down in one place.
When divorced employees are sharing custody of their children, though, this same lifestyle can be problematic. Some have even said that every single outcome of a proposed move is going to have some sort of drawback. For example:
1. The employee could elect not to move so that both parents stay near the child.
While this does keep the relationships strong, it could cost the employee a promotion or even a job. It could be a significant hit to a person's professional career.
2. The employee decides to move, leaving the child behind with the other parent.
In this scenario, that parent's relationship with the child can fade significantly. Even coming back to visit for big events - a birthday, a graduation - is not the same as being there for every step a child takes. The parent could miss huge milestones in the child's life and end up with a relationship that is nothing like the close parental bond he or she hoped for.
3. The employee decides to move, taking the child along.
Both parents still have a right to see the child, though, and this move has to be approved by the court. If it is approved, the child may spend a lot of his or her life on the road, potentially being shuttled over hundreds or thousands of miles between the two houses.
Since these drawbacks undoubtedly exist, parents and courts focus on the child's best interests. For instance, a school-aged child may not want to move at all for fear of losing his or her friends. Children could also be torn out of groups they've joined, like the drama club, the football team, and the like.
So, parents may decide to have the child spend the school year with one parent and then the summer with the other. This can work, but it may mean the child feels lonely and friendless all summer long. The other parent still has to work, after all. The child may even start to resent that parent and not want to go in the summers.
This isn't to suggest that a relocation is impossible. It's just to underscore the very real issues that parents face in this line of work, and to show how very important it is to always think about the child's best interests. With every decision, parents must ask what the child wants, not what they want. This can help to craft a plan that works for the child, which is the ultimate goal, and which has the best chance of being approved by the court.
If you're going through this process, make sure you know all about your rights, your ex's rights, and your child's rights. All will factor heavily in the case.