Long Distance Parenting: Tips for Making It Work
What happens when one parent must move far away? Sometimes it’s a job that requires a parent to move, other times a divorced parent may need to move closer to family members who offer assistance and support. Whatever the reason, long distance parenting results in many new challenges.
Do I need a new parenting plan?If you find yourself in this situation and you are the parent with majority timesharing, you will have to go to court and get permission to relocate and to modify the existing parenting agreement. Depending on the reason for your move, the court may or may not be sympathetic. If the court approves, a long-distance parenting plan will be put into place that outlines how you will co-parent. If you are the parent who doesn't have majority timesharing, you should have a modified parenting plan before you move. It may be possible to reach an agreement with the other parent, or you may have to go to court. Either way, you will want to submit your new parenting plan to the judge for approval, so that it is enforceable.
What is the best way to change the parenting plan?First things first, you might want to sit down separately and come up with your own list of must-haves and use them as a starting point. Although it can be difficult, try to put your emotions on hold and maintain a logical approach. For example, while you really might want to have your child with you for his or her birthday, it may fall on a school day, so having them travel a long distance for one or two days and miss school simply may not make sense. If you can't come to an agreement, you may require the assistance of a mediator. He or she can help you work through some of the roadblocks.
What things should I consider in a long distance parenting plan?Depending on your situation, there are going to be a number of questions that will need to be answered including: How often will the child visit the non-custodial parent? Who arranges and pays for the child's transportation to and from the non-custodial parent? What about texts, Facetime, Skyping? How will you share information about what is taking place in your child's life? (i.e. grades, illnesses, friendships, extracurricular activities, etc.) These are just some things that you will need to work out. In any long-distance parenting situation, one parent is going to become the full-time parent, and this can be difficult. You may get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of being a single, full-time parent and forget to keep your ex informed and involved. On the other hand, if you are the parent who does not have custody, you may forget to make that daily phone call or text to your child that keeps you in the know.Communication is of the utmost importance. Despite your own disagreements with each other, you must work together to maintain a good relationship with your child. With some planning and cooperation long-distance parenting can work effectively for everyone involved.