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Changing child custody leads to less migration

People today move half as much as they did 50 years ago, but for years, demographers have been stumped as to why. The usual explanation has been that it is related to the economy, but one University of Connecticut professor who decided to study the problem found that economic fluctuations did not affect a steadily-declining rate of migration. After looking at several other potential causes, he found that for parents in Florida and throughout the country, a higher divorce rate and child custody responsibilities kept many of them in the same place.

Other potential causes the professor examined included an aging population and home ownership rates, but he found that neither had a particular impact on migration. He then turned to demographic data provided by the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which collects data going back to 1968, to reach his conclusions.

While divorce rates have risen over the past 50 years, this is not the only reason for the shift. In the past, divorced families were often less connected. Mothers might get custody and fathers might move away and see their children at certain times of the year. With the present trend toward greater involvement from both parents and shared custody, parents are much less likely to move out of state because it might limit access to their children.

Parents who are concerned about child custody might want to begin by trying to negotiate an agreement with the help of their respective attorneys instead of going to court. This might result in a more flexible plan that suits their individual circumstances better. Children may also adjust better in a lower-conflict divorce. However, in some cases, the other parent is not cooperative, and it might be necessary to turn to litigation where a judge will make a decision based on the child's best interests.

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