long-distance parenting

Guidelines for Long-Distance Parenting


When the final decrees for divorce have been handed down, there might be one parent who would be on the outside looking in. 

The usual set-up in Texas is that there is one parent who will be the primary custodian. The other parent may have custody for fewer days in a week or even just visitation. At times, they may even be confined to a place a long distance away from their child.

The Long-Distance Parenting Plan

It is inevitable that you have to work with your ex-spouse. This is why the hope is that all the emotions have been threshed out in the divorce proceedings. If your ex-spouse is the primary custodian and you have moved away for any reason, then here are some options you may discuss.

Monthly Visits

If you need to take a plane ride to reach your spouse’s residence, you may arrange for monthly visits instead of weekly. You may also arrange bi-weekly (twice a month) visits, and you would need to inform your co-parent about it. There should be careful planning and consideration on your part as the courts usually prefer to have less disruption on the child’s daily routine.

You may also reach a compromise for the child to travel with you, the non-custodial parent, as long as there is clear consent from the primary custodian.

Gaining Custody During School Breaks

Monthly visits can be limited, and you may have to stay in a temporary residence or a hotel. You can agree to share the school vacations of the child in your own home. You can take half of the summer vacation and or agree to split holidays. For example, the child can stay with you on Thanksgiving but has to spend Christmas with your ex-spouse.

You can split the seasons and revolve around your travel plans around the arrangement.

Generally, divorced parents will still split up major traditional holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Travel Details

If you both agree to let the child travel, then the planning has to extend to the details. If it is by plane, will you let the child travel alone? Will the primary custodian take the child to you, or will you travel and pick him up? 

These details are required, since it is part of the routine and they expect it to be followed, for the safety and welfare of the child.  Even the payment arrangements are considered. 

This is applicable even for land travel. The plan needs to be specific. Usually, it is the non-custodial parent who visits and picks up the child, but the co-parents may meet halfway. You may also split the cost if both parents are financially capable. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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