Currently, we live two hours from family. I have been working part-time and going to graduate school. I will now have to find full-time employment and possibly put school on an indefinite hold. It’s important to me that my daughter have a strong relationship with her father, and I know that moving two hours away would fundamentally change their relationship. The custody arrangement would be every other weekend with some extended time for holidays and summer. I’m worried that if it’s too much time or trouble for my ex to see our daughter, he will eventually not exercise his custody time regularly. However, if I move in with family, I would have much needed help on a day-to-day basis and would also be able to save money and continue school.
So far, I have not been able to depend on Lance for financial/child support. He is already claiming that he doesn’t see why I would need money from him, so I am not optimistic he will pay timely. I do have an amazing network of close friends in my current town, and I like my job. I could transition to a full-time roll with my current employer. However, I would be living paycheck to paycheck. My ex wants me to stay because it would “save him money.”
So should I sacrifice my financial security and comfort in the hopes my daughter can have a better relationship with her father? Or, should I uproot our lives and start over closer to family? I know that, no matter what, the implications for her coming from a broken home are long-term and far-reaching. I just want to do what is best. I value your advice, and I know you always advocate in the best interest of the child. — Wants What’s Best for Daughter
If I were in your position, I’d probably be very tempted to move closer to family. Not only will your family love and support you (on a day-to-day basis), but they will also extend the same love and support to your daughter. There is no guarantee that, if you stay put, Lance will give your daughter the time of day, let alone the child support you’ll likely need to make ends meet. A father who thinks it’s too much time and trouble to drive an hour or two to see his daughter (if he does think that) probably isn’t a father who will be ever present for the daily needs of his child. Sure, your daughter may get some crumbs of attention from him — and maybe a few more than she might if she lived farther away. But at what cost? She’ll see extended family a lot less, she’ll see you less (because you will, theoretically, have to work more to make money to support the two of you), and she’ll probably feel the disappointment more to have a dad who doesn’t have distance to blame for not prioritizing her. (If you move and you’re right that he doesn’t make much effort to see her, it will be easier for her, as she grows up, to blame their strained relationship on distance rather than the idea that her dad’s a douche and/or that he doesn’t care about her. Related, and also something to think about: It will also be easier for her to blame you for taking her away from her dad, though that certainly isn’t a given.)
One thing to keep in mind that might help ease your anxiety is that no decision you make right now has to be permanent. Maybe you decide to rent an apartment locally, transition to a full-time position with your company, put school on hold, and see how that goes for six to twelve months. Does Lance step in and take a satisfactory co-parenting role? Is he exercising his custody rights and helping with child support? Is your daughter’s relationship with him developing well? If none of those things is happening, you can move to your family with a clear conscience, knowing that, even when Lance had the chance to make things work with his daughter close by, he made no effort.
Conversely, if you move to your family right away to get support while you get on your feet post-divorce, you can still decide to move closer to your daughter’s husband later if it seems then that their relationship would truly benefit from closer proximity. No decision has to be forever.
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