Making up a parenting plan and dividing rights between co-parents is relatively easy when both parents live close by, but what about when they don’t? If you or your co-parent has to live far away for work, how does that change things? Here is everything you need to know about long distance parenting in Arizona.
Long Distance Parenting Schedules
Typically, when setting up a schedule for parenting time with a long distance parent, the parent who has stayed in the old neighborhood will keep the child for the school year, as this presents the least amount of upheaval for the child’s life. The parent who has moved will typically get several blocks of parenting time throughout the year, usually during school vacations to minimize disruption to the child’s school year. This might mean less parenting time in the calendar year, but because it means more quality time with the kids, it offsets the bulk of the year being spent with the other parent.
The parenting agreement will specify how travel expenses are divided between the parents. Sometimes one parent takes responsibility for travel one way, and the other takes responsibility for the other way, sharing the expenses relatively equally between them. Other times, one parent may be ordered to cover all of the travel expenses, for example, if one parent makes more or if that parent is the one making the decision to move long distance. Also, the parenting plan should identify who will or can accompany the children if airline flights are iinvolved.
Communication is always important between co-parents, but in a situation where both parents live in the same area and switch off parenting time regularly, communication is often used to coordinate pickups and dropoffs and to share important details of a child’s schedule. With long distance parenting, communication becomes even more vital, as good communication becomes the basis of the long distance parent’s day-to-day relationship with their child. The parenting agreement will need to establish the importance of communication, between the co-parents as well as between the long distance parent and the child.
Virtual and Drop-In Parenting Time
Today’s technology allows for greater involvement than ever in long distance parenting, thanks to technologies that make virtual parenting possible. The long distance parent can see their child and even be “present” during major milestones and other events, thanks to video conferencing. Additionally, the long distance parent may find that they can benefit from unplanned parenting time, known as drop-in parenting, at times when they are in town. The parenting agreement needs to establish expectations for flexibility from both parents to allow for virtual and drop-in parenting.
Renegotiating the Parenting Agreement
If either you or your co-parent has had to move, making one of you a long-distance parent when you weren’t originally, you may need to renegotiate the parenting agreement. Ideally the original parenting agreement should have established a procedure for changes to the parenting agreement, but if you and your co-parent are in disagreement over how long distance parenting will look in your situation, you may need to go back to your lawyers, mediation, and possibly even court to renegotiate the agreement.
It’s important to remember that in long distance parenting situations, Arizona courts prioritize what’s best for the child, rather than what’s convenient for the parents. With that being said, a skilled lawyer can make a strong case for what might be in your child’s best interests. To discuss your situation and how we can make a case for you, contact Simon Law Group today.