Divorce can be especially hard with children involved, and it’s refreshing to see when co-parenting seems to be working.
But how does co-parenting work effectively long-distance, questioned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor immustardyellow was overwhelmed when she heard her ex-husband’s plans to move their two children to a small town three hours away, effectively taking them away from her.
Her ex accused her of acting irrationally when the Original Poster (OP) threatened to get a lawyer involved.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for lashing out at my ex-husband for wanting to move away with his girlfriend and my kids?”
The OP was co-parenting with her ex-husband after their divorce.
“Me (35 Female) and my ex-husband (34 Male) divorced 2 years ago. We have two children together (7 Female and 5 Male).”
“We decided to not have the court involved in custody at all, with us mutually agreeing that the kids would stay with him and his girlfriend in our old house together on the weekdays and attend school in the suburbs. That way they can remain in the same school as they used to.”
“School ends on 6/17, then it switches to our summer schedule where I’ll have them on the weekdays and he’ll have them on the weekends.”
“After we divorced, I moved to the city (about 30 minutes) away and pick them up every Friday night and spend the weekends with them.”
“For the past two years, co-parenting has run pretty smoothly. We occasionally do things together when our kids have special events or during their birthdays. Sometimes his girlfriend comes along and we are able to have a cordial relationship with one another.”
But then her ex-husband wanted to change the arrangement.
“This is where the dilemma begins. Last Friday when I came to go pick up the kids, he invited me inside to talk.”
“Basically, he said that since he’s probably going to work from home indefinitely, he wants to move to his family’s property with his girlfriend and the kids 3 hours away in rural Wisconsin.”
“He plans on taking the kids out of public school and having his girlfriend and his sister (who currently lives there) homeschool them.”
“This was a plan he had originally mentioned to me back when we were together, but I had reservations about moving to a rural town with my career and being close to good school districts.”
“I am also strongly against homeschooling and believe that it does not prepare children for proper socialization skills in the future.”
The OP did not take the news well.
“As soon as I heard this, I lashed out at him, saying that if he wanted to move there so badly, he should just start a new family and leave me with the kids instead.”
“I also told him that this was a sick attempt to take the kids away from me.”
“At this point, I was enraged, so I started yelling and asked him if his girlfriend and his sister are even qualified to teach them properly, how they were going to socialize and make friends, and why he would want to change things all of a sudden when our co-parenting was going so well.”
“All he has to say was, ‘I knew you were going to react this way.'”
“I told him that I would lawyer up and make it unbelievably hard for him to go through with this.”
She struggled to enjoy the weekend with her children.
“I took the kids for my weekend with them, barely unable to compose myself for most of the time.”
“I feel awful for having my kids see me in a state like this, but I want them to grow up knowing that I will fight for them.”
“I also asked my kids how they would feel about moving with their dad and his girlfriend away from me, and both of them said they didn’t want to.”
“I took them back to their dad on Monday, and I received a text from him today saying, ‘Can you please stop manipulating the kids into thinking I’m some kind of evil monster??!'”
“AITA for lashing out in this situation?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks
- NAH: No A**holes
Some empathized with the OP and said they were her children, too.
“NTA. These are your kids too, and I can’t blame you for reacting like you did.”
“Get a good lawyer ASAP.” – CaliMama79
“I actually moved closer to my ex to make sure my son stayed in close proximity to him. It was not where I really wanted to live but it was best for my son.”
“I always knew I was going to move out of state but did not do it until after my son went off to college and I had 80% custody (all weekdays and every other weekend).”
“I was very flexible so my son had as much time as he wanted with his dad and he used to go do homework at his dad’s place since his dad was a math guy like my son and my son was taking computer courses at his arts and technology high school and my ex is a software developer it just made sense.”
“Ultimately we stayed very amicable, sat together for events, and even had some holidays together. Works so much better when the goal is what is best for your kids, not what is best for you despite your kids.” – mortgage_gurl
“NTA. This is what parenting agreements are FOR. It’s great you guys were amicable right now, but that time has passed as circumstances changed.”
“Court, of course. Moving your kids far away from you to a rural/isolated place is pretty upsetting for anyone, even if you were still in that marriage!”
“While I understand he may want to give them more of an idyllic outdoor childhood/life, your concerns are totally valid and more realistic. Time to go to court. Maybe they can buy a summer home there.” – iwantasecretgarden
“I am a lawyer, don’t actively practice in family law, but have some experience with it.”
“It’s not going to hurt her (mostly having the kids on the weekends) in the grand scheme of things. She mentions dad works from home, she didn’t want them to be uprooted from their schools, and they’re living the majority of time in what was the family home.”
“Living a half-hour away and having them on the weekends when she, presumably, does not work from home really isn’t something the Court would dock her for, as the arrangement just makes sense.”
“She also mentions that she has them weekdays during the summer months, so the arrangement is a little bit more equal than it may seem.”
“Dad, on the other hand, is not really going to look good, as he is making an abrupt decision that the kids and mom are not on board with, pulling them out of school, and preparing for them to be homeschooled by someone who may not even be qualified to do so. The Court is not going to love that, especially due to the unilateral nature of his decision.” – GhostDogTheConquerer
Others also had concerns about the homeschooling element.
“I find it absolutely unbelievable that a 7-year-old and 5-year-old will willingly leave friends and their mother behind to be homeschooled by their father’s girlfriend 200 miles away, I would think their attitude goes without saying unless dad is selling them on it, hard.” – Sad_Ring_3373
“It’s not about asking the kids about what they want. Educational decisions should be made by the parents.”
“I mean, if you tell a 5 and 7-year-old, ‘Hey kids, you never have to go to school or have homework again, we’re going to learn at home, yay!’ then most kids will happily agree.”
“Adults need to think of the practicalities of the situation. How qualified is the person doing the homeschooling? Is it a good idea to move to a new area, have no friends or social circle for the kids, and immediately start homeschooling? How do you plan for the kids to develop social skills with their peers? What facilities exist for kids in the area? Etc.”
“As the parent, OP was within her rights to immediately express her concerns before talking to the kids.”
“And that’s before you even get to the logistics of how she’s going to see her kids regularly if they are 200 miles away.”
“This is the father’s whim, even if he has had it on his mind for a long time. He hasn’t presented to OP how his dream fits in with her reality, he just expects her to accept what he wants with no benefit to her relationship with her own kids.” – IdlyBrowsing
“I want to know if the girlfriend had actually spent much time in rural Wisconsin. Or homeschooling two grade-schoolers who have no other kids to play with. I wonder how long that would last.” – BaitedBreaths
“An ‘idyllic’ life can just as easily be turned into an isolated life, especially since the children would be homeschooled by his girlfriend and her sister, and who knows what they would teach them.” – Limerase
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a brief update:
“I consulted a lawyer this morning.”
Though some could see how the OP should have tried to react more calmly during that initial discussion, especially if it happened in front of her children, they still empathized with her.
They were her children, after all, and there was no telling how often she’d see them after the move, or what they would learn during homeschooling, or who they would interact with in that isolated space.