Out-of-state Custody Arrangements
You can write up your own out-of-state custody arrangement on your own or with the other parent, or work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own arrangement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans. You make each part of your agreement, and then you can print professional documents of your plan.
You will need a custody arrangement as part of your divorce proceedings, so an out-of-state custody arrangement means that you and the other parent are living in separate states, or soon will be.
When determining child custody, family courts may award child custody to the parent that appears to meet the best interests of the children. This is particularly true when you and the other parent live a considerable distance apart.
If you and the other parent lived near each other, were equally good parents and interested in regular visitation, you could be awarded joint physical custody
However, an out-of-state custody agreement generally designates one parent as the sole custodian, with visitation rights to the out-of-state parent. While the family court believes that it is in the children's best interests to spend quality time with both parents, excessive travel can be bad for children.
If you or the other parent currently have joint custody, but one of you must move out of state, custody generally goes to whichever parent stays in the state. In most cases, children do best when they live in a place they are familiar with, including their old schools and near friends.
You and the other parent are encouraged to create your own out-of-state custody arrangement because you are the experts in what your own schedules are and what the needs of your children are.
As long as the family court finds the out-of-state custody agreement reasonable, workable and doesn't negatively impact the children, the arrangement has a good chance of being approved.
Here are a few scenarios about who can create your out-of-state custody arrangement:
- You and the other parent can work together to submit one to the court
- You can submit one alone if the other parent doesn't want to work with you
- The other parent can submit a separate one at the same time you do
- A mediator can work with both of you to create one
- Your attorney can create one and the other parent's attorney can as well
- The judge at your custody hearing can submit a standard state custody arrangement
The most preferred scenario is when you and the other parent work together on an arrangement that works for you and your children.
Use Custody X Change software to create an out-of-state custody arrangement using the provided templates. Then you can customize the document to fit your unique needs.
An out-of-state custody arrangement includes the same topics as a standard custody arrangement, with areas that outline everything from custody to expenses.
There may be parts that are easier to negotiate because one parent is out of state, while other parts may be harder.
Here are the four parts of a custody arrangement, including one that covers out-of-state parents:
- Legal and physical custody: How custody will be divided between you and the other parent.
- Parenting time schedule: The visitation schedule for children and when the out-of-state parent will visit the children and when they will travel out of state.
- Child-rearing decisions: Issues surrounding parenting that will be consistent between homes, such as chores, discipline and communication.
- Expenses outside child support: Agreements on costs associated with raising children, such as health insurance, schooling and taxes.
Make sure your out-of-state custody arrangement recognizes your children's developmental needs and takes into account their needs. It's a good idea to work with an attorney who can advise you on protecting your rights as a parent.
There is no one-size-fits-all custody arrangement for families, nor is there an out-of-state custody arrangement that fits everyone.
Unique factors such as distance, work schedules and ages of children all contribute to the need to create a unique plan that works for you.
Here are some things to consider as you customize your out-of-state custody arrangement:
- Age and maturity of your children
- Health and special needs of your children
- Distance between your two homes
- Type of travel required
- Ability of parents to pay for travel
- School and work schedules for everyone
Use the Custody X Change custody schedule templates to get you started on the basics of the custody arrangement. Then, you can customize it to fit your out-of-state circumstances and the needs of your children.
If some part of your out-of-state custody arrangement is not working, especially for your children, you must take steps to revise it to better suit their needs.
You and the other parent must start the process that will allow the family court to approve your suggestions for change.
There are many reasons why you may need to revise your out-of-state custody arrangement, such as:
- Your children have outgrown the current arrangement
- The travel capabilities of your children have changed
- You or the other parent have significant schedule changes due to work or remarriage
- You or the other parent experience financial changes, positive or negative
- The health, wellness or well-being of you, the other parent or your children changes
You can take the steps necessary to make changes to the out-of-state custody arrangement if it is truly having a harmful effect on your children's ability to develop a quality relationship with both parents, despite the distance.
You can take the steps necessary to revise your out-of-state custody arrangement if it is not working out for your children by returning to family court and requesting that your changes be approved.
Even though one of you is living out of state, you must file your request for a revision in the state where you were divorced and where the custodial parent lives.
While you shouldn't make significant changes unless they are necessary, sometimes you and the other parent observe parts of the arrangement that need adjusted to create a more stable routine for your children.
It may help to keep a parenting journal to note when something isn't working out. Custody X Change features a parenting journal with note space linked to each day of the calendar. You can record your notes, then print out a complete report to view.
You can use Custody X Change to create a sample revised out-of-state custody arrangement to submit to the family court. You will also need to answer questions about why you think the revisions are necessary and how they will help your children's lives.