When families become divided (when the parents divorce or otherwise separate), one of the most important issues that must be decided is where the children will live.  This is especially concerning when one of the parents lives in or plans to relocate to a different city or state; anytime parents live more than about 50 miles from each other, this can be a major issue.

While many parents go into either panic or defensive mode when they learn the other parent wants to relocate (especially when the relocating parent wants to take the child with them), it may surprise you that it’s very possible to successfully raise children together while living in two different states-sometimes even on opposite sides of the country! AND, if handled correctly, it can be done successfully and may, in fact, be what’s best for everyone involved.


There are typically two reasons why one parent who has a child living in one state may make the decision to relocate to another state (either with or without the child).

1) Opportunities

When parents divide, they begin a new journey in life.  Oftentimes, parents are making a transition from living together in one household to living in two separate households.  Two separate households= two sets of bills & other responsibilities.  Consequently, their current situation (i.e. job, the cost of living, etc.) may no longer serve them well; parents who were living together in a large metropolitan area may no longer be able to afford the cost of living on their own.  Parents who were living together may have put their dreams on hold and previously turned down a job offer in a different state for family’s sake.  Some parents may not “find themselves” and figure out what they really want to do with their lives until after their marriage or relationship ends and may discover new opportunities that can change their life for the better.  Bottom line is, When opportunity knocks, sometimes you gotta answer!

2) Back to the roots

Many parents have found themselves in a completely different place than where they grew up.  All too often you hear of people who left home solely for the purpose of going to college or to accept a job in a different state, yet wound up settled down with a family in that very state before they knew it!  But what happens when the family divides? They then no longer feel connected to that state and quite frankly want to get away; go back to the roots! Particularly for divorcing parents, the emotional turmoil that comes along with the territory of divorce may be too much for them to handle alone.  And if all they have in that state are their children and their Ex’s family, sometimes going back “home” to be with their immediate and extended family who will support them through such a trying time may be best.  After all, happiness is essential to successfully raise children in a divided family;  If one parent is miserable, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.

But how do you successfully raise children your children together from two different geographic locations?

Many parents live in separate states & raise their children together successfully. The key to making this work for the best interest of the child is to ensure that there’s a parenting plan in place that includes frequent contact with the parent living in a separate state & a set visitation schedule that’s made into a court order (to protect everyone involved.)

A parenting plan is essential to divided families, especially when the parents will be living in separate states.  Parenting plans outline the specifics of what will happen with your child and include anything from where the child will live, go to school, and what religion they’ll practice, to how often they will speak to and visit with each parent.  I’ve even helped parents write out parenting plans that outline bedtimes, meal plans, homework/study schedules, and more.  When it comes to parenting plans, the possibilities are endless! They are far from boilerplate and specifically tailored to the needs of your family only.The purpose of the parenting plan is to address the concerns of both parents and make sure they are on the same page when it comes to raising their children.  And the best thing about parenting plans is that you can have them signed by the court and made an official order so that just in case either parent tries to withhold, alienate, or otherwise interfere with the child or the other parent’s rights, it’s enforceable.

If the parents learn how to work together, follow the parenting plan, and adjust it as necessary, the child whose parents live in two separate states can potentially have a great relationship with both of them, can thrive in all aspects of their lives, and may avoid the negative effects that would exist if the parents weren’t strategic in making the transition.

For more tips on successful co-parenting, check out my book: “The Business of Co-Parenting”, Subscribe to this blog, and my newsletter!