Americans less mobile as divorce rate grows

People in California and throughout the country may be less likely to move to another state than their grandparents, and some say that it's because of divorce. The fact that Americans move half as much as they did 50 years ago has stumped demographers. One professor of geography decided to devote his time on a Fulbright fellowship to finding out why.

Factors he considered included an aging population, home ownership, and a poor economy. However, correcting for an older population showed that age made little difference. In addition, home ownership rates have not changed in the past couple of decades and economic peaks and valleys did not seem to influence the rate of migration.

After careful research, the professor pegged divorce with children to be the reason. In the past, custody often went to mothers, and fathers saw their children less often. However, the trend today is toward joint custody, which means that parents' lives continue to be entangled after divorce. Moving out of state might result in a loss of custody, so parents tend to stay put. Less mobile parents might also eventually mean less mobile children.

Child custody may be a major concern for parents who are divorcing. A parent who hopes to share custody might want to discuss their situation with an attorney. A judge may look at factors such as how much time a parent spends with the child. If a parent does wish to move away after a divorce, a judge might weigh the reasons for the move versus the child's best interests.

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