How Do Long Distance Parenting Plans Work?

Long Distance Parenting Plans

Parents have to move from state to state for a number of reasons. The reasons could vary anywhere from work requirements, health reasons, or a remarriage. When children are involved, the ability to relocate can become complicated and stressful for both the parents and the children. There are some important things you must consider before you decide to relocate and create a long distance parenting plan.

Are you planning on taking the child with you?

If you are planning on taking the child with you and enrolling the child in school in the new state, there are several things you must consider. For the child to be able to relocate with you, you must look at your parenting plan. For the most part, you cannot just up and leave with the child. Most of the time, you have to get the other parent’s permission, possible attend a hearing on the issue, and will need a new parenting plan. If you are not planning on taking the child, you still must consult with the other parent to discuss a new parenting plan. Most likely your normal parenting plan will not be realistic if you are living in a different state.

How will the relocation impact yourself and the child?

If you plan on moving states and not taking your child with you, how is it going to impact everyone? Is the child a teenager who can adjust easily to you being gone? Is the child a baby who needs to bond with you on a more regular basis? Will you be able to be away from the child for possibly months at a time? Again, keep in mind that your current parenting plan will not work once you leave.

What type of long distance parenting plan will work? 

Depending on the child’s age, there is a number of long distance parenting plans you can enter into. If the child is older, you may want to leave it up to the child when they come to visit you if they are not living with you primarily. Older children tend to have many activities scheduled during the summer and may not want to leave the activities or their friends. You may want to consider a schedule that does not take them away from their home for many weeks at a time. You can also always put into place a schedule where you come to them. However, you would need to make sure you had the time off and living arrangements.

Younger children will be easier to create a schedule for. If they are not of school age, you can create a schedule that lets you see them every month. If they are of school age, you may request that they spend the summer with you if the other parent is the primary residential parent. You could also request long school breaks, such as spring, fall, and winter break.

Can you afford to relocate?

If you plan on relocating, be prepared to be responsible for most of the transportation costs for the child. A lot of times the court will order the relocating parent to pay for those costs. You should consider if you can afford the flights and/or hotel costs that may be associated with the long distance parenting time. If you cannot, be sure to enter into a plan that you can afford, or reconsider relocating, as you may not get to see your child much.