When you signed divorce papers, you undoubtedly understood that your decision was going to disrupt your children's lives. However, you didn't let that worry you too much because you strongly believed that with lots of love and support, your kids would be okay. Now that you realize that you will be co-parenting on a long distance basis, you understandably want to make sure you and your ex create a solid plan.
Depending how old your children are, you will need to tailor your co-parenting plan to fit their needs. It isn't likely you'd send a toddler across country by airplane, every couple of months. On the other hand, an older teenager might be mature enough to travel alone. As long as you're both willing to work as a team, you can be hopeful that your long-distance co-parenting arrangement will work. If legal problems arise, it's a good idea to know where to seek support.
Can you drive to each other's houses?
When planning a long-distance co-parenting arrangement, you need to consider whether you can get to your ex's home by car. Even if it takes a couple hours or more, if you can drive the distance, it will likely make scheduling custody time a bit easier.
If you have to take a plane to get to each other's homes, that's another story. Not only must you determine if your children can fly without you, you must also consider finances regarding travel expenses.
Blocks of parenting time
It's not likely that you and your co-parent will be exchanging custody every week when you live a long distance apart. A better plan might be to schedule chunks of time, such as exchanging custody every few months. If you happen to homeschool your children, this type of arrangement wouldn't be that great of a challenge. If they enroll in outside schools, however, it might take some creative planning.
The money aspect
Some parents agree to provide for their children's financial needs whenever they have custody, meaning when your kids are with you, you are responsible for expenses, but when they're with your ex, he or she pays for everything. These expenses may be on top of any child support ordered by a Minnesota court. In any case, if your goal is to achieve a low-stress, long-distance co-parenting plan, it is critical that you and your co-parent agree about finances.
Parents and kids must be able to communicate
Children may feel homesick for their other parent when they are long distances away. This is where parents can use modern technology to their advantage. Co-parents who want to keep the peace between households are wise to allow their kids continued access to both parents at all times. They can video chat, text or email to their hearts' content.
This way, your kids can send you selfies or show you an art project they just completed. You can say goodnight to them or ask how their day was if they took a special trip somewhere. If a parent doesn't allow kids to communicate with their non-custodial parent, not only can it cause stress, but it might also violate a court order. Mutual respect goes a long way toward peaceful, long-distance co-parenting.