How to Create a Long Distance Parenting Plan - Divorce Legal Blogs Posted by Gerard F. Miles - Lawyers.com

How to Create a Long Distance Parenting Plan

Divorced parents with shared physical custody of children are entitled to spend a set amount of time with their children. Under these circumstances, parenting plans are frequently drafted to define when a child will be living with each parent as the amount of time is generally not split equally among the parents. The need for a set parenting plan can be especially important when divorced parents live far apart from each other.

Set Visitation Schedules
Given the travel logistics involved in long distance shared physical custody arrangements, the first step is to set a visitation schedule outlining when the child will be living with each parent. Visitation schedules should reflect set dates for regular parental visits, vacations, and holidays. In cases of long distance parenting, one of the most common arrangements is when a child lives with one parent during the school year and the other parent during summer vacation.

If the other parent will be visiting a child in the other parent’s physical custody, visitation provisions can state where the visiting parent will stay, how much time they will spend with the child, and how much notice must be provided before visiting. Some plans also state the frequency of telephone calls between the non-present parent and the child.

Account for Travel Details
Transportation is an important consideration in any long distance parenting plan. Setting forth the logistics of how a child will get to and from the other parent’s home is important to prevent miscommunications and unexpected expenses. One common provision is an agreement to meet half way for the child exchange. When the child will be taking an airplane, important details including whether the child will be accompanied on the flight, which airports will be used, which parent will make the travel arrangements, and who will pay for the flights should also be part of the plan.

Put Best Interest of the Child First
Maryland courts look at the “best interest of the child” to determine the validity of a long distance parenting plan.

Some important considerations include:

The child’s preference
The financial ability of each parent to support the child
The physical and psychological health of the parent
Ability of the parents to communicate with each other
The employment demands of each parent
The school the child attends
The opportunity to bond with other siblings and extended family members
Creating a long distance parenting plan that represents the best interest of the child should be the goal for both parents.

Participate in Mandated Steps
Under Maryland law, divorced parents must participate in court ordered custody mediations and custody visitation evaluations. Issues related to long distance parenting can be resolved amicably during this time if both parents work together to put the best interest of the child first. To successfully navigate legal proceedings, seek the assistance of an experienced Baltimore County child custody lawyer.

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Gerard F. Miles

Licensed since 1978

Member at firm Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC

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