When parents of a child are working their way through divorce proceedings, there is no requirement that they live in the same state. It is not uncommon that the parties have been separated for quite some time already, and one has already taken up residence in another part of the country. Therefore, location becomes a big issue that must be hammered out when negotiating a child custody agreement. Long distance custody has its challenges, but is absolutely feasible when everyone is on the same page.
If long distance parents are going to share custody, then one of the most important things to take into account is the child’s schedule. Whereas, traditional joint custody agreements often alternate weeks, it would not be beneficial for the child to spend so much time traveling long distances back and forth. School schedules, time for extracurricular activities, and consistency should be top priority in the area of best interests of the child. It is best for everyone if there is a set, dependable schedule, at least throughout the school year. During this time, part of the normal routine can be for the distant parent and the child to spend some time talking via video chat every night. Technology can be utilized in a variety of ways to help facilitate long distance connections.
When the child is not in school, he or she may go spend a week or two with the distant parent. Travel arrangements can be agreed upon and funded well in advance. When negotiating these types of custody arrangements, it is very important to include which parent is responsible for travel expenses. Also, it should be considered that the parent whom the child lives with during the school year have primary custody for the purpose of making important or emergency decisions.
There are several ways in which long distance parenting can be arranged. An experienced attorney will be able to work with you to come up with the best solution for your family, including possibly offering alternate solutions you have not yet thought of.