Creating a parenting schedule after a divorce or separation can be challenging. Every parent has a set idea of what would be best for their children, and since very family and child is unique, these ideas can vary wildly. Hopefully parents will be able to work together amicably in order to craft a specific parenting schedule that is right for their family and their child. When parents live in the same town, these schedules can look like a “typical” parenting schedule with the parties sharing time and both attending extracurricular activities or community events regularly for their children. However, when the parents live far away from each other, it can become more challenging to craft a long-distance parenting plan.
An essential factor will be the age of the child. A very young child has the advantage of not needing to worry about a school schedule. Accordingly, parents can create a parenting schedule that ignores typical school holidays. Depending how far away the parties live from each other, it may be an option to alternate the child every couple of weeks, or have blocks of four weeks for one parent and one week for the other. Where parents reside far enough away when they need to fly to retrieve or exchange the child, this may be far less practical, as the expense would quickly become exorbitant.
When the child is school aged, the parents will obviously need to structure the parenting plan around the child’s school breaks. One common solution is to have the children spend the vast majority of summer break with the non-custodial parent, also often in addition to spring or fall break. This also has the advantage of keeping the cost of flights down for the parents, as the children would only need to be flown to the other parent’s residence a few times a year.
Another consideration will be the cost of transportation. As mentioned, flying back and forth is often the simplest solution for exchange of the child when the parties live too far to make a drive practical. The issue of who will pay for the flights has often been a sticking point in settlement negotiations. One way to approach the situation is to examine which parent moved away. If the custodial parent relocated out of state with the children, it may be more fair to have him or her bear a larger share of the cost. Conversely, if the non-custodial parent moved away from where the parties lived while married, it may be more just for him or her to provide the lion’s share.
Creating a long-distance parenting plan involves many considerations. We have helped many clients craft plans that work for them and their children. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your case.