International Custody Agreements & Visitation Schedules

If you live a long distance from your child's other parent, you may need a long-distance custody agreement.

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An example situation

Here's an example situation of two U.S. parents who divorce when their daughter is eight. At first, the daughter primarily lives with her mother. When the mother plans to move to Canada with her new partner, the mother and father go back to court to modify their custody agreement. They need a long-distance custody agreement. Their new arrangement is:

  • Sole custody. The father gets sole custody of their daughter, who will remain in the US with him. They agree that if the mother returns to the US, they can share joint custody again.
  • Long-distance visitation. The mother will come to the US to visit her daughter. When the girl turns 12, she can travel to Canada to visit her mother. An adult must accompany her on these journeys. This accompaniment will be her mother's responsibility, not her father's.
  • Parent–child communication. It is also the mother's responsibility to pay for the daughter's cell phone. Mother and daughter can talk and text every day.

Three factors to consider

1. Your child's age and ability

Once your child leaves the country with another parent, it may be extremely difficult to get them back if the other parent isn't willing to do so. Allowing your child to leave the country with your ex is something that should be given much thought and consideration.

Younger children do not have the ability to contact you if they need to. A three year old isn't going to have any idea what to do if they are taken from the country and not returned. A thirteen year old will probably have something to say about it. Consider the age and abilities of your child as you create a long-distance custody agreement.

2. Other countries' laws

Don't expect other countries to abide by American laws. Some countries have no regard for American law, and your custody order will be invalid there. If your ex takes your child, a court may not help you get your child back.

Some countries have comity. This means they have an agreement to honor laws from certain countries. However, you should not rely on the reciprocation of comity to protect your custodial rights. There is nothing to stop your ex from traveling to any country once your child is over the border.

3. How you'll keep track of your child's whereabouts

If you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable with your child leaving the country with your ex, your custody order should forbid him or her from leaving the country (or even the state) with your child.

You can include stipulations in your custody agreement that prohibits your ex from obtaining a passport for your child and that forbids him or her from removing your child from the area. If you feel your ex may attempt to flee with your child, you can request supervised visitation.

Your long-distance visitation schedule can allow the other parent to come to visit your child. This is often more convenient for both parents and can be less expensive.

It's not your child's fault that the other parent has relocated out of the country, but you should take measures to protect him. Regardless, you should allow your child to actively communicate with the other parent so they maintain their relationship. You may also want to teach him or her how to make an international phone call, just in case.

The easiest way to make a long-distance parenting plan

There are many matters to address when making an international custody agreement. From the basics of when the child will be with each parent to remote communication, it can be overwhelming.

The Custody X Change app helps you cover all the bases with more than 140 provisions and the option to create your own.

You can also create a schedule to keep track of when the child will be with each parent. It's simple, just follow the steps to make a long-distance custody schedule.

As a result, you'll get a court-ready parenting plan that lays out every detail in airtight legal language.

To make a parenting plan quickly and affordably, turn to Custody X Change.

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Long distance schedules

Third party schedules


Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

Sole physical custody

Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

Succeed by negotiating

Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

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