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Tell Me About It: Parent worries about taking a new job far from ex-wife and kids
Tell Me About It

Tell Me About It: Parent worries about taking a new job far from ex-wife and kids

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(Adapted from an online discussion.)

Dear Carolyn:

Recently I accepted a new job opportunity that means I have to relocate 3½ hours away from my ex-wife and two children (a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy). I will no longer see my children during the week.

But I do plan to get back at least twice a month for the entire weekend. I can stay at my parents’ house and have the kids over there with me.

My ex-wife is unhappy, and my children are upset. But I’m in a financial hardship right now, and this job would more than double my income, so I don’t have a choice.

What can I do to ensure that I maintain a strong bond with my children? My daughter is old enough to FaceTime with me, and I guess we can try that with my son, too. What else should I do?

— Relocating

Keep your promises. Follow through on all of your plans — the weekends and the FaceTiming and whatever else — against the pull of inertia, which will direct your attention away from them and toward your new town. Save your money like crazy so you have more choices sooner than you would otherwise. And keep at least some degree of a job hunt going for something closer to your kids.

I’m sorry about the hardship that put you in this position. It sounds as if you’re doing whatever you can, which is something kids tend to see (eventually) through the surface details. They know when they’re important, heard, loved.

Shortest answer; Use the extra income to show up — however possible.

Reader thoughts:

  • A colleague of mine moved away from his ex-wife and daughter when the girl was 8. He read to her every night on the phone and drove the six hours (each way) to see her, every other weekend. For 10 years. She is now in college and they are incredibly close.

He never missed a beat with her, and so their relationship never missed a beat. It can be done! Good luck with overcoming the hardship.

  • If your ex will have more custody days and you will be making more money, she may be entitled to more child support. In some cases, a lot more.

That should go into your calculation of whether this new job is worth it, given the distance and travel costs, too. There are online calculators for child support guidelines. See if it is worth it.

  • You really should double-check all the legal aspects of your move with an attorney, including multijurisdictional effects of the same. It might also affect custody and visitation.
  • My dad’s dad left for a job after his parents divorced, as did my husband’s dad. None of them were ever close again. Ever. Is the job — or the next wife — worth that?
  • Plenty of lousy dads are with their kids every day, and plenty of great dads have limited time with them. Every family is different.

You can reach Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. You can chat with her at noon Fridays at WashingtonPost.com.

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