Parents in Virginia and throughout the country who divorce are more likely to share custody and avoid relocating, according to a study by a researcher who has examined changing migration patterns. Americans move to another state half as often as they did 50 years ago, but demographers have not known why. A University of Connecticut professor identified the changing nature of American families as one major factor.
Before he settled on divorce and child custody, he looked at other factors. One frequently cited cause for the drop in migration is the economy, but he found that despite economic fluctuation, migration went steadily downward. After adjusting for age, he found that an older population was also not a factor, and since home ownership remained fairly steady, it also did not influence migration.
It was only after he began examining the changing structure of families that he hit upon one reason. In the past, divorce rates were lower, but when parents did end their marriages, fathers often spent far less time with their children. They might even move out of state. The current trend is one of shared custody and greater parental involvement. Parents are less likely to move because they might lose custody.
There are many different ways that divorcing parents can approach child custody, and if they are able to negotiate an agreement outside of court, they might be more satisfied than they would be with a judge’s family. For families who can afford it, having the children remain in the family home while parents take turns staying there based on the custody agreement is one option. However, there are many different arrangements that can also provide stability to children after a divorce. Considerations such as the child’s age, school situation and preferences may all influence custody arrangements.