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Developing a Long-Distance Parenting Plan

Parenting is one of the most rewarding, and toughest jobs. Long distance parenting presents additional challenges. Developing a long-distance parenting plan is critical to maintaining a relationship with your children when one parent lives far away. Sometimes, the distance is anticipated in the divorce decree. Other times, a change in circumstances, such as a new job or family demands, leads to a move after the divorce.

Essentials to Long Distance Parenting Plans

Anticipating Variables

There are several keys to a successful parenting plan when distance separates families. First, parenting plans should be as detailed as possible. Misunderstandings are minimized when contingencies and alternate circumstances are anticipated and dealt with in advance. While many parents maneuver the challenges of long distance parenting without ever relying on the details of the written parenting plan, having the written plan in place is additional insurance which provides guidance and helps avoid conflict.

Monthly Visitation Options

In this day and age, creative parenting plans can account for distances in ways prior generations never considered. Monthly visits may occur at the child’s location, the parent’s location, a mutually agreed upon neutral location between the two, or at another agreed upon location, such as at a grandparent’s house. Additional time between parent and child, including video conferencing, email contact, and text messaging, in addition to a schedule of phone calls should be a regular part of a child’s visitation.

Travel Plans

In all cases, but particularly for families visiting over long distances, travel plans are an essential part of any parenting plan. Topics include the following:

  • Which parent is responsible for making travel arrangements;
  • Whether the child is old enough to travel alone;
  • Appropriate options for travel – including train, bus, and air, as well as by car;
  • What are acceptable “arrival locations” (for example, if the child is traveling to Southern California, are San Diego, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles all acceptable? Two of the three? Only one?)
  • The party paying for the travel; and
  • Contingency plans should weather impact travel.

If you need a long-distance parenting plan, either as part of your divorce planning, or post-divorce, Zachary D. Smith, LLC, leading divorce attorney in Cincinnati offers insight and experience to serve you and your family for a successful outcome. To schedule a consultation please contact Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513)275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com for further information.


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