3 Things to Know About Long Distance Co-Parenting
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.