Tips for Long-Distance Parenting After a Relocation
Arizona permits people with minor children to relocate far away from the other parent, subject to certain requirements and limitations. Or there may be situations where the non-custodial parent moves away, such as to pursue a job opportunity. In either case, the relocation puts pressure on parenting time. Long-distance parenting is not ideal but there are ways to make the arrangement a bit easier to manage.
If you or your spouse have relocated out of state or over a considerable distance, here are some positive efforts that can make the transition easier for the children:
- Agree on basic terms — Arizona law deems any location more than 100 miles away or crossing state lines as a long-distance move that requires court permission. It is best when the other parent supports the move, since the court then will most likely support the request. If the parties agree on essential terms, there is less chance of a future conflict.
- Schedule regular visits — The Arizona courts recommend that children visit with a long-distance parent at least four times per year. There should be blocks of time allotted over the summer, winter and spring breaks from school, as well as at least one other block of time. If the parents’ homes are within driving distance of each other, they may consider adding once-a-month weekend visits or long weekends to the plan.
- Focus on travel arrangements —The relocating parent should expect to pay the majority of the child’s travel costs. Young children should be accompanied by a trusted adult whenever possible. If a child is traveling alone, the parent should choose an air or ground service carrier that regularly accommodates children. Travel routes should be direct when available and the parents should make backup plans in case of travel delays or difficulties.
- Communicate — The long-distance parent should be sure to regularly communicate with the child. Staying involved in the child’s life is critical. The long-distance parent should regularly communicate via phone, computer or other means and be available for the child much of the time. The two parents should also have an open line of communication with one another. The parties should be available to discuss the child’s progress and any problems or issues.
- Be flexible — Both parents should remain somewhat flexible with respect to scheduling and travel. The best of plans are ruined by emergencies or unforeseen difficulties. The child benefits when the parents cooperate and act reasonably when circumstances change.
Relocation issues can be complicated and contentious. A parent who is planning to relocate should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced custody and relocation attorney.
Based in Scottsdale, Clark & Schloss is one of Arizona’s most respected divorce and family relations law firms. Our attorneys have the knowledge, skills and experience to assist you effectively in your relocation or child custody matter, feel free to call us at 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a consultation.