Divorce is never easy, and when you have kids, it can be even more challenging. That doesn't necessarily mean you're ruining your children's lives or that achieving an amicable co-parenting plan is impossible. If you're trying to make a long-distance co-parenting plan work, you might really have your work cut out, but as long as you're both willing to work as a team, it can be doable.
It's always a good idea to craft a solid co-parenting plan in writing and to seek the court's approval. When a family law judge issues a court order, it helps avoid conflict because the judge clearly states the terms, and you and your ex both sign documents showing that you're in agreement. Still, living far apart can spark many unique challenges in a post-divorce parenting relationship.
Keep long-distance co-parenting stress to a minimum
If your ex lives a few blocks away and you need to discuss the kids, it's likely not all that difficult to arrange a meeting. If you live in Ohio, however, and he or she lives on the other side of the country, peaceful co-parenting might be easier said than done. The tips included in the following list might be helpful:
- Video chats are valuable tools: When your kids are staying with their other parent, you can make good use of modern technology to keep in close touch with them. If you and your ex agree to make sure the kids have a way to video chat with their other parent, it can help parents and kids avoid feelings of loneliness, isolation or abandonment.
- Be respectful at all times: You don't have to like the way your ex does things. In fact, you don't even have to like your ex, but long-distance co-parenting will be a lot less stressful if you both respect each other's parenting rights and roles as key figures in your children's lives.
- Discuss finances ahead of time: Will your children be traveling back and forth by car, train or plane? Each option carries expenses, and you and your ex will fight a lot less if you work out the financial details ahead of time regarding who's going to pay for what.
- Learn to think in bulk terms of time: Chances are slim to none that you'll want your kids traveling cross-country every week. Therefore, long-distance co-parents must learn to think in terms of chunks of time instead, such as six weeks on, six weeks off or longer to help avoid complications with custody exchanges.
Perhaps an Ohio judge issued the custody order in your case. If your ex lives on the West Coast or elsewhere, he or she must still adhere to its terms. If your long-distance co-parenting plan isn't working because your ex won't play by the rules, you can take immediate steps to protect your parental rights and the best interests of your children.