Child custody and divorce may affect U.S. migration rates

Fifty years ago, it was more common for Texans to move to other states. This type of moving, called migration, is now occurring much less frequently across the U.S. Researchers have been baffled as to why migration rates have fallen so significantly. However, one researcher’s work points to child custody as a possible cause.

The researcher analyzed data about U.S. migration rates in tandem with data about divorce and child custody cases. He found that there was a strong correlation between child custody matters and lower migration rates. Divorced parents who have children are much less likely to move between states than people who do not have children.

Divorce and child custody matters may have a larger impact in modern times than they did 50 years ago for several reasons. Five decades ago, judges more often gave full custody to mothers, and divorced fathers were likelier to move out of state and see their children less often. Now, courts frequently award joint custody, meaning that the parents will need to remain living near each other in order to keep their custodial rights intact.

The termination of marriage involves many considerations. When the divorcing couple has children, child custody and visitation may dictate that the parents’ lives remain interconnected even after their divorces are final. If a parent does wish to move to another state for a job, they may need to file a motion requesting the court’s approval for the relocation with their children. A family law attorney may help such a client with presenting evidence supporting the reasoning for a move.