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Father sees divorce as unavoidable; how to split the children for long-distance parenting plan?

Your Question:
I am a father of two daughters 4 and 1. My wife and I had both worked with the first daughter; however, she became a stay-at-home mother with the second child. We are planning to separate. I live in Maryland and have a good job without good recource of moving out of state. She wants to move to NJ (5 hours away) to live with family in a second home that her brother rents from us. Everything in the separation is amable, except for the custody. I understand that the one-year old should go with her since the one year old is very attached to her. However, I would like to keep custody of the 4 year old. She is equally attached to the both of us. Visitation would be limited at such a distance. How should one go about getting split custody of the children? I know that separating the children is not prefered. I don't see her supporting herself in-state and eventually she would have to move to NJ.

I read that you recommend staying together. But, when love no longer exists between the couple and we no longer care what the other does (inside or outside the marriage), I do not think the lack of affection between us and the arguing is good for the children. I do not want them to form a concept of marriage based on our relationship. Seperation is inevitable. The question is, how do we go about it in a friendly way? The only issue I forcee is custody.


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My Answer:

While it's nice when things are friendly, custody conflicts can quickly turn ugly.

I strongly encourage the two of you to accomplish the following for the children:

  • Don't separate the children. While YOU want to keep one and "give" her the other one, the children shouldn't be forced to grow up as strangers to each other.

  • Live in the same city. While YOU don't want to move to New Jersey, it will be extremely tough on the children for the next 15+ years having significant distance between the parents.

I don't buy your "divorce is good for the children" line, when your current plans would be extremely destructive for them.

If separation is inevitable (your word), that's fine. But the focus should not be on your needs, or on a friendly settlement that is bad for the children.

The focus, at this point, should be on what would cause the children the least damage, since the parents already failed at providing the ideal scenario of a single, loving home.

If you can accomplish a child-centered parenting plan without going to war, that's great. But if you need to litigate to achieve a child-centered parenting plan, you owe it to your kids to keep their welfare in the forefront of your mind. Ideally, it will occur peacefully. But going for peace right now, at the expense of causing years of a bad arrangement for your kids, is not an option.

You may want to spend a bit of time reading through my parenting plan section.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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