Co-parenting when parents don’t live in the same state is tricky
When you and your former spouse filed for divorce in an Ohio court, your highest priority might have been making sure your kids got through it all okay. You never expected your ex to tell you that he or she was moving out of state. Long-distance co-parenting can be especially challenging. Success depends on both of you being willing to cooperate and compromise, and to keep your children’s best interests in mind in all co-parenting decisions.
Like most family law judges, you might be of the opinion that children fare best in divorce when they get to spend ample time with both parents. You’re just not sure how that’s going to work when your kids have to get on a plane to see your ex. In situations like yours, detailed terms in a co-parenting agreement are essential to avoiding stress.
Execute a plan and stick to the plan
If you and your ex lived a few blocks from each other, custody exchanges would be easy. However, since your post-divorce lifestyle is going to involve children traveling by airplane every time they switch households, it’s understandable if you’re a bit anxious about it all.
This is why writing out clear terms and getting a court order can be so helpful. Once a judge issues an order, you and your ex have no choice but to adhere to the terms, unless you don’t mind legal problems because that is likely what you’ll get if one of you disregards a court order.
Think in chunks of time
When co-parents live near each other, it’s easy to arrange a custody plan where kids switch households every week. Flying across the country every week isn’t practical, so it may be better to think in terms of blocks of time.
Perhaps your children will live with you during the school year and your ex, during the summer. Then again, if you want some summer break time with your kids as well, you might be able to work out a plan where they stay with each parent for six months at a time, taking turns on the months, every year.
When it’s not your turn
Especially if your kids are going to be far away from you for weeks or months at a time, you’ll miss them a lot while they’re away. This is where advanced technology can come in handy. If you and your long-distance co-parent agree to allow the children to keep in touch with the non-custody parent through video chats, texting and other modern tech ways, it might help ease the feelings of loneliness or isolation of the other parent.
It also comforts children to know that the lines of communication remain open at all times with both parents, no matter whose house they’re staying in at a given time. There are some cases where one parent tries to keep kids from being in close contact with the other. No one has a right to impede a parent-child relationship.
What to do if it happens to you
You and your ex are hopefully willing to get along as well as possible to create peaceful, well-functioning households for your kids. However, if a legal problem arises, it’s always good to know where to seek support because, as a parent, you have rights and can take steps to protect them if you feel they have been violated.