Is the new year bringing changes in your life that require you to be away from your child and co-parent for stretches of time for business or other obligations or maybe even to live some distance away? You’ll probably need to modify your custody order and parenting plan.
It’s crucial to have clear provisions for communication with your child in your parenting plan. Being a long-distance separated or divorced parent means that you have to work harder to maintain a close relationship with your child when you can’t always be there for them in person.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology that lets parents have “virtual parenting time” with their kids no matter where they are in the world. However, that often requires cooperation with the other parent – especially when there are young children involved.
Codifying some communication provisions helps set expectations and makes things more predictable for both parents and kids. Even if you and your co-parent are on good terms, there may come a time when they might be tempted to hinder your communication with your child for some reason. Having a communication plan in place will make this possibility less likely
What should you include in the plan?
You’ll want to include the basics, like how often you and your child will have virtual time together, what communications app(s) you’ll use, how long the visits will be and who will initiate the contact. You can also detail how you’ll arrange for “make-up” communications if you or your child is unavailable at the scheduled time.
Both of you should commit to making these instances rare. Adhering to your communication commitments to your child is an essential part of long-distance co-parenting.
Likewise, the parent with whom the child lives needs to respect the communication plan. If a parent makes a habit of ignoring the calls or claiming that the child is unavailable or doesn’t want to talk, they could be considered to be violating the plan. If that starts to happen, keep track of the instances. Should it become a habit, you have evidence to present them (and potentially a court, if necessary).
A solid communication plan that is respected and followed by both parents is crucial when there’s a long-distance parenting relationship. With experienced legal guidance, you can work out a plan that keeps your child’s best interests at the forefront.