It can be challenging to co-parent from a distance, and many divorced parents find they are struggling not being in the same home as their child after divorce and separation. Sharing custody in the same town is challenging, and by adding more miles between you and your child, you can strain your relationship and make parenting less rewarding. But if you don’t plan appropriately and work with your ex-spouse, you can create a rewarding parenting relationship capable of weathering the challenges of long-distance separation. In most long-distance shared custody situations, one parent is the primary caregiver, which means the other parent may feel as if their role has been diminished. If you are filling the role of primary parent, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing the bulk of the parenting work and begin to resent your ex-spouse.
3 Tips for Creating Lasting Long-Distance Parenting Plans
The long-distance parent also feels frustrated because they cannot be part of their child's daily needs and decisions. Hurt feelings and frustration can lead to difficulties in your long-distance parenting situation if you don’t develop a plan with your co-parenting partner that gives you both the ability to be a part of your child’s life in a meaningful way. Post-divorce, the best gift parents can give their children is stability and the restoration of normalcy. While you can’t reconstitute your marriage, you can create a parenting plan and strategy that gives your child a new normal. Here are several tips for developing a long-distance parenting plan.
- Plans Should be Flexible & Realistic: Your long-distance parenting plan should be realistic and reflect changes and schedule activities on your child’s schedule. If your child plays a sport, has club obligations, or extracurricular activities demanding large portions of their time, your parenting plan should be as flexible as possible. Your child’s school and extracurricular plan will dictate when and how often your child can travel. You can work with the custodial parent to create a parenting plan that realistically reflects your child's life. Suppose you are scheduled to share custody of your child during Christmas break or summer vacation, but the scheduled absence interferes with your child’s sports schedule or extracurricular obligations. In that case, it can be hard for a co-parent to adjust to their time being infringed upon, but a good parenting plan requires flexibility.
- Communication is Key to a Good Plan: A good plan should begin and end with open and honest communication. For divorced parents to create a lasting plan, they will need to communicate openly and honestly about the issues they find frustrating. Suppose you are the custodial parent and you feel resentful and angry about the travel costs of sending your child to visit their other parent. In that case, it’s important to share those concerns and work together to create a more fair and equitable solution.
- Fair and Equitable: Long-distance parenting can be expensive, and that’s one of the greatest obstacles to a solid long-term parenting plan for parents sharing custody over large distances. Long-distance parenting is a joint responsibility, and the expenses have to be shared for there to be equity and fairness in the plan. If one parent feels like they are bearing the brunt of travel expenses, it will be difficult to create a lasting long-term plan.
Palmer Rodak & Associates can help you develop a parenting plan reflecting your specific situation. We understand how difficult it can be to parent from a distance. Don’t put off creating a new plan today! Call Palmer Rodak at (760) 573-2223 to schedule a consultation.