A child custody lawyer sometimes helps a divorced couple modify their parenting agreement when one person plans to relocate. Both individuals need separate legal representation to prevent conflicts of interest, even if they have already written a draft. Documenting the arrangement with the family court is crucial to protect both parents. Nobody can change this agreement without filing a petition for modification.
Dealing With Changes
A new agreement must be written before relocation when the parents share physical custody. The same is true when one parent has primary physical custody and the other has liberal visitation. That might be at least one day per week or the full weekend twice a month. Once the kids are in school, shared custody may be impossible when the parents live hours away. Even regular visitation can be compromised depending on the distance.
Depending on where the custodial parent is moving, relatively frequent in-person visits may still be reasonable. If the homes are around 100 miles away, for instance, the long-distance parent might have the kids stay for the weekend twice a month. The parents could meet halfway on Friday and again on Sunday. Of course, this becomes less workable the farther the distance is.
The children could also visit the noncustodial parent for longer time frames when schedules allow. They might spend part of the summer with that parent, for example.
Things become more complicated when kids become teenagers. They may protest about being away from home for several weeks if they have a romantic interest. They don't like being away from their friends for that long. Some want to pursue extracurricular activities over the summer or have a part-time job.
A Bright Point
One bright point is that long-distance parenting is substantially easier now than was true in years past. Moms and dads can text with the kids every day. Video chats can be scheduled. Many phone plans offer nationwide unlimited minutes. Although the situation can be frustrating at times, they might imagine what things would have been like before smartphones and the Internet.
A Detailed Plan
With a detailed plan in place, the children and long-distance parent can maintain a fulfilling relationship without long lapses in communication. An online calendar could be developed to contain details about scheduled virtual and in-person visits. This can be adjusted as needed; both parents are encouraged to be cooperative.
To get started on documenting a new custody agreement with the court, a parent may contact a family lawyer for assistance. Reach out to a law firm like North Metro Litigators to learn more.