Long Distance Custody Schedules for Children

How do I make a long distance custody schedule for my children?

You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can 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 schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules and parenting plans. You make each part of your schedule, and then you can print your calendar and plan.

Use the Free Download

What is a long distance custody schedule?

A long distance custody schedule addresses the issue of visitation when divorced parents live a substantial distance apart, such as in different states. Children live with one parent most of the time and spend quality time with the other parent. The custody schedule outlines where the children will be on any given day.

When you and the other parent divorced, your intimate relationship as a couple ended, but that didn't end your responsibility as parents. Even though you may live some distance apart from each other, it is in your children's best interest to have a relationship with both parents. A long distance custody schedule ensures that both parents will be a part of the children's lives.

A long distance custody schedule is an advantage to your newly reorganized family in the following ways:

  • It outlines when the children can expect to see the distant parent
  • It clarifies set communication times with children and the distant parent, such as a regular phone call or video conference
  • It eliminates conflict about where the children will spend holidays
  • It eliminates conflict about where the children will spend vacations
  • It determines which parent is in charge of what aspects of transportation
  • It specifies which parent assumes the costs of transportation
  • It provides a method of negotiation, such as third-party mediation, when you and the other parent disagree on something
Is a long distance custody scheduled required?

Regardless of whether you and the other parent live nearby or some distance apart, the family court will require a custody schedule. All states require a detailed custody schedule as a key component of the parenting plan that is part of your divorce proceedings.

You and the other parent can create a custody schedule on your own and submit it to the family court for approval. If you cannot agree with each other, you may each create a long distance custody schedule, and the family court may approve one or the other. If neither custody schedule meets the court's approval, a judge will create one for your family.

The family court prefers it you and the other parent create a workable long distance custody schedule because you know your children's needs best. Plus, you have a better understanding of your schedule and that of the other parent.

When parents create a custody schedule together, rather than have a judge create one, it's usually a much better fit for the family.

Custody X Change software is an easy-to-use program that allows you to create long distance custody schedules. Based on your information, it creates a color coded calendar that is easy to follow and can be uploaded to your mobile devices.

What should I include in a long distance custody schedule?

When you create a long distance custody schedule as part of your parenting plan, include every detail you can think of that relates to duration, frequency, transportation and cost. It's up to you and the other parent to make the visitations a positive experience for your children,

Some of the details to include in your long distance custody schedule are:

  • Which holidays will be spent with the distant parent?
  • When will vacations be scheduled with the distant parent?
  • How will your children travel to the distant parent's home?
  • What type of visits is the distant parent entitled to when he or she comes into town?
  • Where will the children stay if the distant parent travels to their city?
  • Who will cover travel expenses?
  • How often will your children communicate with the distant parent?
  • Whether travel expenses will be deducted from child support?
  • How far in advance should reservations be made?
  • What level of input will each parent have about travel arrangement as well as dates and times?
  • What special holidays will you have the child? Which school vacations will the child spend with you?
  • Will your children require a settling-in period after a long visit before starting school again?

These questions, plus any others that are unique to your family situation, must be answered in detail when creating a long distance custody schedule. When you and the other parent work on the answers, keep your children's best interests in mind, rather than your own.

What are some typical long distance custody schedules?

There are no typical long distance custody schedules, because there are so many factors involved that no single schedule can apply to most families.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a long distance custody schedule:

  • Age of children
  • Maturity of children
  • Financial status of each parent
  • Distance between parents
  • Method of transportation
  • Children's school schedules
  • Parent's work schedules

Based on your own situation with the other parent and your children, you should be able to come up with a reasonable long distance custody schedule that will give your children maximum time with the distant parent at a level that is healthy and affordable for you.

Custody X Change software provides you with templates that allow you to create realistic and detailed parenting plans and custody schedules that can be tailored to meet your individual needs.

How do children's ages affect a long distance custody schedule?

Travel is exciting and scary for children of all ages, and when you are working out a long distance custody schedule, take into consideration the age and maturity of your children. Age-appropriate long distance visitations will benefit your children, while visitations organized without their best interests can be developmentally harmful.

Very young children, up through the toddler years, should not be away from the primary caretaker for very long, making it unwise to send children to the distant parent for days at a time. It is better for the children if the distant parent comes to their city for visits, keeping them in familiar areas and close to the primary caregiver.

Older children, such as elementary aged children, can handle overnight visits depending on their maturity level. However, travelling alone by air or train may be too stressful. Parents who can meet in the middle to transfer the child will find more success with visitations. Shorter more frequent visits will benefit children at this age rather than longer stays.

Pre-teens and teenagers are able to handle more complex travel arrangements and can stay with the distant parent for longer periods without negative consequences. However, school, friends, extracurricular activities and even jobs may make longer visits more difficult.

When you are working on reasonable visitation schedules, avoid putting your own desires ahead of the well-being of your children. You and the other parent must agree to a schedule that allows quality time with each parent without jeopardizing their mental and physical health.

Should I track how the long distance custody schedule is working?

It's a great idea to track how the long distance custody schedule is working so you can identify problem areas and record observations that are both positive and negative.

Many parents keep a parenting journal that is specifically used for documenting parent and custody related observances. With a parenting journal, it is easy to go back and see any emerging patterns that may indicate that the long distance custody schedule needs revising.

Custody X Change software offers you a parenting journal feature that lets you enter information each day of the year. When you are ready, you can compile all your entries into a report to print out.

When you've identified a problem area within the long distance custody schedule, bring it up with the other parent and see if you can come up with a solution. If you cannot agree, you may need to go to mediation or back to family court to get it resolved. As long as you can show that the long distance custody schedule is no longer in your children's best interest, the family court will likely approve any revisions you may suggest..

Custody X Change is software that makes it easy to document your situation and stay organized.

Free Download
No credit card required

Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules and parenting plans. You make each part of your schedule, and then you can print your calendar and plan.

Use the Free Download