Considerations for Long-Distance Custody Agreements

If one parent moves away from the other, you will need a long-distance custody agreement. If you are in the initial stages of your custody proceedings, you can include long-distance provisions right away. On the other hand, if a parent relocates after custody has been finalized, you will need to return to court to have your order modified.

Standard long-distance visitation schedules can be used as guidelines. You should not feel obligated to use them. If you reach an agreement with the other parent, you should be use whatever schedule you both see fit.

Consider the following when drafting a long-distance custody agreement.

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Long-distance provisions

It's wise to include provisions for long-distance custody in your original custody agreement. Planning ahead will prevent you from having to return to court, saving time and money.

In a typical long-distance (300 miles or more) custody agreement, the noncustodial parent has the child:

  • Spring Break: Every year
  • Fall Break: Odd years
  • Thanksgiving (from Wednesday to Sunday): Even years
  • Christmas (for seven days): Odd years
  • Summer: 30 consecutive days after school gets out, with an additional two- or three-week visit at the end of summer

Sole custody

Occasionally, the parent that is relocating will try to go back to court to get sole custody in order to take the child out of the area.

Sometimes this works — but only if the parent convinces the judge that the changes would be in the best interests of the child. Judges consider continuity an important factor in a child's life. Disrupting the child's home, school and community is not something to be done without a good reason.

Attempts to gain sole custody in order to move away with the child can backfire. The result can be that the child remains with the parent that is not moving away, and often times that parent gains sole custody in the process.

Visits for the distanced parent

A typical long-distance visitation schedule allows the distanced parent to visit the child several times a year. You need to decide how much advance notice the visiting parent should give the other parent and the amount of time each visit will last.

Visits from the out-of-area parent should not interfere with the other parent's allocated time. Pay attention to has custody during holidays before you plan a holiday visit.

Your child's age

The age of your child should play a role in the length and frequency of long-distance visitation. It is unreasonable to expect a two-year-old to go on a plane and spend 30 days apart from their primary caregiver. You may include different custody arrangements for your child at different stages in their life.

Travel expenses

You don't have to agree to share travel and transportation expenses. You may believe it's logical and fair for the other parent to be solely responsible for those costs, especially if they chose to move away. If you can't reach an agreement, you can bring your concern to the judge, who will make a final decision.

The easiest way to make a long-distance custody agreement

There are many moving parts to consider when you make a long-distance custody agreement.

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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


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