Divorce is prevalent in our world today. Many people who believed at one point in time that they could not live without each other come to find out that they cannot make it work. When that happens, children are sometimes caught in the shuffle. This is why there is a particular emphasis on creating a parenting plan that works to benefit those children.
When the divorcing parents intend to move far apart from one another or when they have already done so, a long-distance parenting plan is in order. The two parents have to agree on how they will handle their co-parenting arrangement. If they cannot agree, a judge will do it for them.
What Are The Goals Of A Long-Distance Parenting Plan?
The ultimate goal of a long-distance parenting plan is to create an agreement that both parents can consent to and abide by for the benefit of their children. Co-parenting is never easy, but a long-distance parenting plan can lay the ground rules for how both parents are expected to behave. A few of the other goals include:
- Constructive communication from both parents with one another and with their children
- Respectful communication at all times when one parent is speaking about the other parent with their children
- A set schedule for things like visitation that includes details about holidays and weekends
- The ability to shield the children as much as possible from the downsides of a co-parenting arrangement
What Are Factors That Must Be Considered In A Long-Distance Parenting Plan?
There are always factors to be considered when establishing a co-parenting plan to make sure it works for all parties involved. The children should be protected from the dangers of being upset by something that is happening with the plan, and the parents need to come to an agreement that they can both abide by. Here are some factors that will always be under consideration when looking for the ideal parenting plan.
#1. The Age Of The Child
Courts recognize that the age of the child or children involved in this co-parenting plan matters. They know that very young children will likely have a more challenging time understanding what is happening. They may be more prone to feeling like they have done something wrong, and they may be more easily upset than an older child. Thus, the courts will always consider the age of any children involved in a long-distance parenting plan.
#2. Financial Considerations
The financial reality of the parents involved in this plan is something that the court must consider when setting it up. If the court can easily see those travel requirements on one parent or the other will put an undue burden on that parent, then the court may order different arrangements to be considered. In other words, if it is expensive for one parent or the other to fly their children back and forth to the other parent, then the court may come up with an alternative set of travel arrangements to handle the situation.
#3. Distance Between Parents
Bringing children across town to another parent is a different story than bringing children across the country. When the lawyers get involved, they will consider this as they set up a long-distance parenting plan. If one parent has moved a great distance away from the original hometown of the children, that parent may have to face the reality that they only get to see the children on a monthly basis or less.
#4. Health And Developmental Considerations
Children who have special needs as far as their health and development are concerned will also receive special consideration from the court. If one parent is more capable of caring for that child, then that parent will be the one who gets the lion’s share of time with the child. In addition, the court may consider the distance from one parent or the other to special medical facilities that the child needs. Special health and developmental considerations include, but are not limited to:
- A physical handicap
- Learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, and speech development issues
- Mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety
- Development issues such as autism, Down’s syndrome, and others
What Should Be Included In A Co-Parenting Plan
The amount of time that each parent gets to spend with their children on a weekly and monthly basis should be included in any plan that is set up. Additionally, it is preferable to have every piece of information about where the children spend certain holidays in the plan as well. These kinds of things can get very contentious at times, and it is nice to have a legal document to fall back on if there is ever an issue that arises.
The plan needs to include information about how the parents are to speak with one another and when the children may communicate with each parent. For example, if the children are with their father, are they allowed to call and speak to the mother? If so, for how long? If the children are brought to a public event such as a sporting event or something similar, are they permitted to see the opposite parent of who they are supposed to be with that week? These are the types of questions that call upon us all to answer.
Which parent is supposed to bring the children where and by what means? This is the critical point at issue when setting up travel arrangements. If the parents are just across town from one another, then the answers are generally pretty obvious. However, parents who live further away will need to have a set of plans drawn up in these legal documents so that there isn’t any question about who is supposed to do what to get the children where they need to go.
Work With An Attorney On Your Long-Distance Parenting Plan
The best way forward when setting up a parenting plan is to use a qualified and professional attorney to help make it happen. They are the professionals who know how to help you with your concerns about moving your parenting plan through the courts in a way that will be to your advantage. You do not want to give up any ground when it comes to taking care of your children and the arrangements that must be made for them. Thus, you should contact us today to set up a meeting to discuss your options.