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Long-Distance Parenting Plans: 5 Do’s and Don’ts

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Long-distance parenting plans can be difficult to create and follow for a number of reasons. Living miles apart makes schooling, activities, family events, and sharing time together extremely difficult. Whether your child switches schools to make it work, or simply goes to live with one parent during the summer, the transition isn’t easy on anyone.

At Buckhead Family Law, we understand this specific challenge of divorce and help parents in Georgia create long-distance parenting plans that work. However, there are some crucial “dos and don’ts” when it comes to creating long-distance parenting plans, so let us share some of these helpful tips that will save you some time and a few headaches along the way.

Do: Prioritize Quality Time

Parents need to have quality time with their children at different times of the year, including all different situations and experiences. When circumstances allow, parents should also be able to allocate individual time with each individual child as well.

In the case of long-distance parenting plans for more than one child, it may be a good idea to think about when or if childcare is available to that person, so individual quality time can occur. While every parent wants to spend as much time with their child as possible, sometimes taking time for each child individually can help to strengthen relationships, especially as children age.

Do: Create Visual Schedules When Planning

Sometimes long-distance parenting plans can be a little confusing and complicated for both parents and children to follow, especially if they are a little mixed up because of school, holidays, or work needs. The best thing that you can do is visually map out your intended plan at all times.

You want to map it while you are working through the agreement because this will help you visualize the time commitments and work that will go into those plans. Remember, when your child is younger, they may not be able to travel by themselves, so consider travel time in your plans as well.

Then, once the plan has been agreed upon, you need to keep these plans posted on a physical or mobile calendar, so you can best understand when you will have your child. There are also great co-parenting apps that can help keep everyone on the same page. This can help with things like scheduling appointments, planning vacations, and preparing for upcoming holidays.

Do: Split Up the Transportation Time

While many people neglect to factor it in, transportation time is a huge part of making co-parenting work. Each parent needs to understand that they just can’t drop their child off at a train station or airport and expect the child to arrive to the other parent safely. Parents will need to figure out who will accompany the child until they are with the other parent.

Try to work with each other and split up this travel time (and cost). It can get costly and takes up a lot of time, but it is just another obstacle of divorce that you must work through to make the situation feasible for everyone involved.

Consider having aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, or other family members help with transportation if it gets to be too much. Eventually, teenagers may be able to travel on their own, but there is always a risk associated with allowing them to travel solo.

Don’t: Expect the Same Plan to Last for Years

Everything changes – especially with children. As a parent, you should know that your child is going to change and meld to the world around them – and that sometimes means that your long-distance parenting plans are going to need to change and transform to meet their needs as well. It could be that your child cannot split time in the same way, particularly if they are in school or extracurricular activities. A child who wants to act in the spring musical or play for the football team can’t split time between two schools very easily.

This sometimes means that the parents will have to make concessions and change what they do, but it is always important to do what is best for the children.  Other times, you may need the assistance of an Atlanta custody attorney to modify your parenting plan.

Don’t: Be Afraid to Admit Something Isn’t Working

When it comes to the world of divorce, we are all just getting by as well as we can in this world, and some things simply aren’t going to work as expected. The good news is that that’s perfectly normal. You may have expected something to work, and it just doesn’t. The only thing you can do is try again. While it is a little more complicated, especially if you have a legal custody agreement that outlines your arrangements, it is common for things and situations to change. Maybe one of the parents switched jobs or got into a new relationship and there are considerations there, or maybe a child grew up and has different needs. Whatever it may be, don’t be afraid to admit that something isn’t working and seek a new solution with your ex. Cooperation and flexibility is key.

Whether you are trying to make a new long-distance parenting plan work or you need help creating one from scratch, our lawyers can help you. The Atlanta child custody lawyers at Buckhead Family Law are here to assist you with your case and help you to create a parenting plan that works for everyone, even if working together is a bit challenging. Schedule a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403.

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