During a divorce or breakup, it's normal for parents to have difficulties deciding on custody arrangements, even when they only live a few miles from one another. However, when one parent is located in a different state, this adds a completely new level of difficulty to the situation. Follow these tips for successfully creating interstate custody arrangements with your former partner or spouse.
1. Specify Which Party Is Responsible for Transportation
When it's time for your child to visit their other parent, it's important to understand who is responsible for transporting the child to and from the parent. Will one party be responsible for all of the transportation, or will you rotate who completes the trek? If bad weather makes it unsafe to complete the trip, make sure that you have a plan to deal with this lost time, such as allowing your ex-partner to have extra time during another visit. Or, you might both agree to write the time off.
You may live outside of driving distance to your ex-partner; if so, make it clear who is responsible for covering the costs associated with flying or taking the train. Put all of the details regarding guidelines concerning visitation in your child custody agreement so that both partners completely understand their responsibilities.
2. Hire a Lawyer
Though a lawyer who is well versed in child custody law is valuable in any separation, they're extremely helpful when making interstate custody arrangements. Your lawyer can decipher the laws in your ex-partner's state, and they can assist with drafting documents regarding your child custody agreement. If necessary, they can even appear in court on your behalf so that you don't have to take time off work and complete the journey yourself.
3. Clarify Expectations Regarding Virtual Visits
It's becoming increasingly common to include virtual visits (like video chats) in child custody agreements. Virtual visits can be an affordable way for a parent to see their child when they're hundreds or even thousands of miles away. However, you need to make sure that you clarify the expectations regarding these visits.
Which parent is responsible for initiating the session? Who will provide the device for your child to use during their session? Are the sessions supposed to take place at a specific time, and if so, what happens if one parent is unable to make a session? How long should the sessions last? These are just a few of the details that you need to address when dictating guidelines for virtual visitation.