Regular contact and shared custody is always important for families in divorce situations, and long distance shared custody can be hard on everyone involved. However, a manageable long-distance custody plan can be worked out in such a way that everyone benefits. The key to making these types of plans work for everyone is detailed planning and taking into account the needs of each family member. A long distance parenting plan should cover the following aspects:
Routine Monthly Visits
Some long-distance custody arrangements will require regular monthly, or even semi-monthly visits. This type of plan works best when there is ample notice given and open communication between both parents. However, depending on distance and scheduling, such visits can become quite disruptive to the lives of the children and can become rather expensive. In these circumstances, it may be better to schedule visits over long school breaks and holidays.
Time During School Breaks
To help make up for lost time during the normal school year, arrangements can be made for children to spend time with the non-residential parent over school breaks, holidays, and the summer. In fact, in these circumstances, children may spend a large majority of their summers and breaks with this parent. The non-residential parent should always consult the school calendar that corresponds with the district the children are in when making plans for visitations.
Family holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, are generally split between each parent. Most parents prefer having the children for at least one major holiday per year and the holiday can alternate. Additionally, longer holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day should be a designated time for the out of state parent to spend with the children.
Communication and Planning
A long distance parenting plan will go smoother for all involved if parents communicate about their intentions, desires, and plans. Both parents should be fully aware of their children’s school calendar and be willing to develop a visitation schedule based on that.
Work with an Attorney
An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through developing and executing a long-distance parenting plan. This will allow both parents the time and opportunities they need to stay connected to their children.
Long distance custody and parenting plans are not easy. However, with open communication and ample planning time, they can work for all who are involved. Parents should be willing to communicate and compromise, as well as plan family time and vacations well in advance. Hiring a family attorney can help your parenting plan run as smoothly as possible.
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