While divorce is technically a legal process, it is also an emotional one, particularly as it relates to your children. The goal should always be to put your children first and assure them that both parents will play an active role in their lives. With this in mind, try to be as equitable as possible and work around your children’s schedules when crafting any custody agreements.
When one parent chooses to move away custody arrangements can become more complex. Hiring an attorney to make sure that any arrangements are approved through the courts is an imperative first step. With long distance, often one parent retains primary custody, while the other has visitation as it is difficult to implement a 50/50 joint custody split under long distance circumstances. Typically, the custodial parent has the children during the school year, and the non-custodial parent gets more time over summer vacations and holidays.
In the situation where your former spouse moved out of state after you already set an agreement, the terms will need to be reassessed. Speak with your attorney as soon as possible about the need for long distance child custody negotiations, during which you and your ex will talk about how to work out visitation. California state law customarily prohibits one parent moving with the children without the written consent of the other or a judge granting a move-away order. A parent can move without the children, but it can have many legal consequences.
If the distance is feasible for driving back and forth, you may opt for meeting in the middle when it’s the other parent’s turn to have the kids. If your former spouse has moved far enough away that the travel time by car is unreasonable, you will need to discuss whether the children will be flying and whether one of you will chaperone them on the flight.
Factors to Consider
When negotiating the terms of long distance child custody plans, the current age of your child will come into play. Older children are allowed to fly unchaperoned, but generally airlines do not allow a child under the age of 5 to fly alone. You can make changes to these and other rules as the kids grow up, but it’s important to speak up about what would make you most comfortable now. Travel costs can impact child support payments and can be just one more factor to discuss with an attorney in addition to modification to your agreed upon visitation schedule.
With a big change in circumstances such as that above, flexibility is key. Stubbornly sticking to the original terms of your custody agreement, which results in severely reducing the kid’s time with your former spouse, will only cause them to suffer over something that is completely out of their control.
Putting Your Children First
Focusing on what’s best for your children is the optimal way to navigate through changes to custody agreements with your former spouse. After all, kids are the innocents in the situation, and with deliberate planning, you can minimize the emotional upheaval they experience. Anytime you do want to make modifications to your child custody or child support agreements, it’s always recommended that you speak with your attorney first.
Getting your attorney involved will ensure the decisions the two of you come to are put into writing and considered legally binding. In instances when an agreement cannot be reached a judge will assist in making a new order.
Looking for an attorney in Orange County for child custody cases? Our team of experienced and dedicated family law attorneys can help. Contact our office for more information on the best approach to long distance custody agreements.