Co-parenting across state lines requires the cooperation of both parents and a visitation schedule that the court will agree with. When parents cannot agree on an amicable schedule that takes the best interests of the child(ren) into consideration, a family law attorney may be needed to take the matter to court.
An Even Playing Field
Each state has its own laws regarding custody and visitation. This can make it difficult when parents need to go to court to address custody, placement or visitation orders. One state might have laws that are favorable to one parent but not the other. Here is where the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) comes into play to prevent parents from “shopping” around for the best deal from the court. Custody and visitation matters will be heard in the state that is determined to be the child’s home state, which is where the child spends the most time.
When there is uncertainty about what state is considered the home state, other factors will be examined, including where the child’s:
- School is located
- Significant family ties are located
- Pediatrician, dentist and other medical providers are located
Additional ties to a community may also be considered, such as activities the child participates in like sports or scouting.
Challenging, but Not Impossible
When one parent lives out of state and is hours away, it is difficult on the children. While the parent may not be able to participate in everyday activities, there are things that parents can do to lessen the strain during extended periods away from each other.
Keeping a solid schedule of visitation times is a good way to build trust with the child. Maintaining a schedule of constant communication should also be a priority. Skype and Facetime may not be the same as living with a child, but these communication tools help the child and parent stay in each other lives while they are apart.
It might be necessary to get a little creative with visitation agreements. When one parent lives across the country, the typical visitation agreement allowing every other weekend might not be feasible. But spending summers or school vacations might be. It also helps if the long distant parent is willing to spend time in the child’s hometown for visitations, too. The court evaluates such plans on a case-by-case basis.