Parenting plans allow for divorced or separated parents to maintain healthy
relationships with their children. Not all parenting plans are as simple
as scheduling which weekends either parent will get a child. And this
is especially true when divorced parents live a long distance from one another.
For non-residential parents and parents who have physical custody, long
distance parenting plans provide the foundation for detailed scheduling
and the opportunity for parents to maintain regular contact with their
children. At McKinley Irvin, our Washington divorce lawyers help parents
establish and maintain workable plans that meet their needs and the best
interests of their children, no matter where they live.
Because long distance parenting plans require extra consideration, we have
put together a list of a few important things to know:
1. Regular Visitation
Long distance parenting plans can allow parents to establish regular visitation
schedules so the non-residential parent can have time with their children
in their home city or state. If parents wish (and have the means to do
so), regular visitation can be scheduled on a monthly or even semi-monthly
basis, or on some other type of periodic schedule.
When formulating these plans, parents will need to work together to ensure
that children are not negatively impacted by having to travel to another
city or state or disrupt their obligations. Your family law attorney should
help you review all the important considerations so that your plan is
workable in the long-term.
In some cases, parents who live a long distance from one another may find
that it is more feasible and less disruptive to create periodic visitation
rather than visitation on a monthly basis. In addition to determining
an appropriate schedule, parents will also need to consider factors such
as school schedules, travel arrangements, and the cost of travel.
2. Break & Holiday Residential Time
For non-residential parents, school breaks and holidays can provide an
opportunity to spend more time with their children at their homes. Often,
parents can establish a working plan for residential time that allows
the non-residential parent to make up for lost regular visitation and
host their children for longer periods, such as summer break, spring break,
and winter vacation. These breaks often prove to be less disruptive to
a child’s schedule than other times of the year. Residential time
can also be split or alternated between both parents during important
family holidays. As with regular visitation, travel arrangements and other
important issues will need to be addressed.
3. Long Distance Communication
In addition to working on schedules that allow parents to spend physical
time with their children, effective long distance parenting plans should
also outline the terms of regular communication between a non-residential
parent and their children. These forms of communication can include telephone
calls or even video calls using programs such as FaceTime or Skype. Working
with the other parent effectively is essential to creating communication
schedules and getting families into a routine that can be maintained.
Although workable solutions for long-distance families are available under
Oregon law, creating plans are only half the battle. Parents will need
to learn how to effectively and amicably co-parent so that each abides
by the terms established in a plan. When thorough plans are established
and properly maintained, they can provide the basis for a healthy family
relationship crucial to a child’s well-being.
More resources about maintaining healthy family relationships after a divorce >
If you have questions about long distance co-parenting or how our team
of trusted and experienced lawyers at McKinley Irvin can help you with
matters involving child custody and parenting time, we invite you to contact
us for a consultation.