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What provisions do you need in a long-distance parenting plan?

If you and your co-parent are going to be living some distance apart after your divorce, you'll need to include some provisions in your parenting plan regarding the specifics of long-distance co-parenting. Whether your child lives with you most of the time and visits the other parent only during vacations or the two of you are sharing custody, it's essential to include more than your parenting schedule in your plan.

Maybe you and your co-parent will be living a couple of hours away from each other or perhaps you'll be on separate coasts. Either way, having these details in place can make things go more smoothly for everyone and ease the stress on your child:

Communication provisions: How often and by what means can your child communicate with the parent they aren't with? Some plans will say, for example, that a child can have unmonitored communication with their parents via phone, video chat and other electronic communication for reasonable periods and with reasonable frequency.

Driving transportation provisions: If your child will be moving between homes via car, who will pick them up and return them? Will one parent drive the entire distance or will you exchange the child somewhere in the middle? Who will pay for gas and other costs?

Airline transportation provisions: Is your child old enough to fly alone or will one of you be accompanying them? Who will be paying for the tickets? Who gets the air miles? Who makes the travel arrangements? Airlines have different regulations regarding unaccompanied children, so it's wise to check with the airline you're likely to be using and get some other tips on how to prepare children to fly on their own.

Parent visitation provisions: If the child is going to remain in their home and the long-distance parent will be coming for visits, where will they stay? How will the parenting time work when they're in town? Who will pay for the cost of the parent's trips?

These are just a few of the considerations. They won't all apply to your particular situation. Whether you're starting off your divorce as long-distance parent or circumstances have changed that necessitates creating a long-distance parenting plan, your family law attorney can help you as you negotiate the details with the best interests of your child in mind.

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