Best interests
of children, parents and others

How can you make well thought out decisions about relocating, where the best interests of your children are properly considered?

We will give you some examples of what could be the interests of the parents, the child and others, such as siblings and grand parents. And we give you some ideas on how to weigh them against each other.

Best interests of the children

When it comes to moving to another city or another country, your child may have the following interests:

  • to have contact with both parents and develop a close relationship
  • to be raised by both parents
  • to stay with a parent who encourages contact with the other parent
  • to stay with a parent who facilitates joint parenting, by sharing information and consulting the other parent in a timely manner
  • to grow up together with siblings
  • to be able to keep in touch with the families of both parents
  • to stay in a country where it feels rooted
  • to stay in a country where important people for the child are also rooted
  • to have a peaceful, orderly, structured existence
  • for continuity and a stable future
  • to be in an environment in which the child can develop and flourish.
Decision making model

Best interests of the parents

Parents may have the following interests:

  • living in the same country as (other) children/ partner/family
  • keeping or finding a job and livelihood
  • keeping or finding a job that offers opportunities for self-development
  • following an education
  • maintaining a relationship
  • gaining a sense of freedom
  • avoiding persons and memories related to a location
  • being in a country where it can find its way, in terms of language, culture, establishing friendships, etc.


Best interests of others

Siblings may have the following interests:

  • growing up in the same family as their siblings
  • a good visitation arrangement between parents and children which takes into account the schoolholiday schedules in different countries, other visitation arrangements and the travel time for those involved
  • growing up with people with whom there is a permanent bond.

Grandparents and other family members may have the following interests:

  • frequent contact about daily activities
  • possibility to be involved in daily life and daily activities
  • possibility to have spontaneous contact
  • possibility of sharing special events in each other’s lives
  • possibility to have contact despite impossibility to make/finance long journeys
Decision making model

Understanding your child’s needs

Different ties

Your child may have ties to both countries. Some ties are sentimental and based on shared history or shared culture. Some ties can give a child wonderful opportunities in the future. Some ties are essential for their wellbeing, some ties can be replaced easily or at least after some time.

It may be worthwhile to explore why your child feels a strong connection to a particular activity, location, sport, school, or person.

Ties to the location, a person or the activity?

The strong connection to school may be based on the fact that he can play a lot of sports at his current school. The bond with piano playing may be based on the fact that it involves a shared interest with his favourite family member. The bond with a certain person may be based on the fact that this person helps him play his favorite sport. The bond with a sport may be based on the fact that he always gets to go to practice on his own, which gives him a strong sense of independence.

If you know whether the bond is strongest with the person or with the activity, you can better assess or discuss whether, after a move, the particular bond can be maintained or perhaps replaced by new activities and relationships.

Siblings growing up together

Not all siblings grow up in the same household. Sometimes they are separated temporarily. During the divorce or relocation, you may have to decide about whether or not they will grow up together.

There are many benefits for children growing up in the same household as their siblings. Several studies show the benefits of growing up together for children’s development.

How to weigh the different interests

Decision making model

Balancing the different interests is very difficult and personal. It will not always be possible to discuss and compare all interests in a joint conversation. But it is important for parents to be able to empathize with each other’s positions.

You can explore the different interests by asking the following questoins:

  • is it a short-term interest or a long-term interest?
  • if the interest cannot be fulfilled now, is that also the case for the longer term?
  • is there an underlying interest that can be pursued in a different way?
  • does the interest coincide with the interests of others, conflict with the interests of others, or are they separate?
  • is it a personal interest or a derived interest of someone else?
  • can the disadvantages of not being able to fulfill this interest now be compensated for in another way?

Language issues

If you are considering moving to another country, where a different language is spoken, you should also include the problems that this may cause in the consideration of interests.

  • How long will it take, before your child has learned that language?
  • What does that mean for choice of school and activities?
  • Is it a good time to introduce an additional language?
  • What difference does your child’s age make in this?
  • What language should you speak at home?
  • How can you support the transition?

You can get advice on this from the experts at On Raising Bilingual Children.