Long-distance parenting is becoming increasingly common, and it is essential to understand how this will affect your parenting time in Arizona. Long-distance parenting rules apply when children move more than 100 miles away from the other parent. The rules also apply when the distance is less but includes travel across state lines. Whenever possible, you will want to seek an amicable parenting time agreement with your ex-spouse rather than leaving it up to the courts to decide the details of your plan. To that end, the following are some details you will want to work out:
Payment for Travel Expenses
In a voluntary move, payment for travel expenses typically falls upon the parent who chose to move away. In an involuntary move, such as for work or health, travel expenses are usually divided as a percentage based on income with the parent who earns more paying more of these costs. However, it is well within the Judge’s discretion.
Whenever possible, children under the age of 8 should be accompanied by an adult during their journey. In the US, all minors under the age of 18 should also carry a copy of the court order and a certified letter of consent signed by both parents authorizing them to travel alone.
Contact With the Other Parent
Children should always have the right to contact the other parent via phone, email, Skype, etc. Prohibiting contact with the other parent can result in charges of parental alienation. As such, make sure that your child has up-to-date contact information for the other parent. Facilitating open communication channels tends to make “virtual parenting” easier for both parents.
Be Prepared for Your Ex to Drop by
The other parent could come to town for work, to care for family, or to see friends. Whatever the reason, your parenting plan may not require you to make your children available. However, it is advisable to allow them to drop in and see your children if both children and parents want to meet up. If you are not comfortable having them come to your home, it is always acceptable to arrange a public place to meet.
Crossing the Border
US citizens can leave the country with a valid passport. Depending on the destination, no passport may be required. As with domestic travel, children will need a certified copy of a consent letter signed by both parents and a copy of the court order.
Unless otherwise prohibited by the court, minor children in the US do not require the consent of both parents to travel abroad. However, they will need the appropriate documentation to leave and reenter the country. If you are concerned that your ex-spouse would attempt to take your child abroad and deny their return to the US, preventing foreign travel is something you should address in your long-distance parenting plan.
Preparing Children for Travel
Always make sure your children have the proper identification and documentation before traveling to see the other parent. You will also want to make sure they have contact information for both parents, and you will want to track their journey in case there are any delays. As your children get older and become more mobile as teenagers, you may agree to allow them to drive themselves to the other parent’s place of residence.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at (480) 568-1141 for more information about long-distance parenting. Whether your children are across the state, or the country, we can help you find the best solutions for your family.