When divorced parents live far away from each other, it can be difficult to come up with a parenting plan that fairly divides a child’s time with each parent. Parents will need to work together to create a plan that takes distance into account and gives each parent as much time as possible with the children.

In-State Parents

Parents who live within several hours of each other can negotiate several different types of plans. While it may not be practical for children to visit the non-custodial parent every other week or weekend, it is often still possible to schedule visits on a semi-regular basis, especially if the children have long weekends or a day off of school.

Additionally, if it is too much of a hassle to transport children to the non-custodial parent’s residence, the non-custodial parent could schedule parenting time at the children’s location after school or on weekends.

When the distance between two parents means that one person sees the children less frequently, the parenting plan might make up for this time by giving the non-custodial parent longer visits with the children over school holidays and summer vacation. For instance, the parents may decide to have the non-custodial parent care for the children for most of the summer and every other spring vacation.

Out-of-State Parents

When parents live in different states or across the country from each other, parenting plans are more complicated. Often, parents who live very far from their children may only be able to see them a few times per year.  Sometimes, the non-custodial parent will have the children over the entire summer vacation and alternating holiday breaks.

If children are going to have to travel long distances, either by plane, train, or car, the parents will need to plan for these trips and travel expenses in advance. Parents should decide who will pay for airfare or train tickets, who will make the travel arrangements, and whether the children will need to be escorted as they travel. If these expenses are significant, they may need to be negotiated as part of the child support agreement and included in court orders.

Also, as noted above, long-distance parents can also schedule their own vacation in their children’s state in order to increase the amount of time they can spend with their children.

Help for Parents

While sharing custody over long distances isn’t easy, it can be done if both parents stay flexible and are willing to work together. Divorced or divorcing parents have the ability to arrange their parenting plan in a way that works best for their children, even if that arrangement is less traditional than most.

If you need help creating a parenting plan that fits your family’s needs, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today. Our attorneys can help you negotiate an arrangement with your former spouse that will fit your children’s lives without unnecessary disruption. To learn more about your options, contact us today by calling 360-926-9112.