Tips for Long Distance with Shared Custody from Nebraska Child Custody Lawyers
Long distances between co-parents can be difficult to navigate. Here are some ideas to make the distance easier.
“One of the biggest fears clients or potential clients have is that the other parent will move the children away from the immediate geographical area in which they currently reside. Nebraska Appellate Court’s have clear and precise tests that must be met before someone can remove the children from the State of Nebraska, and have also been clear that removing the children from Nebraska on a temporary basis is disfavored. However, a party could move within Nebraska and still be 8 hours away from the other parent. This is a difficult situation for all of the parties involved, including children, however Nebraska Legal Group is knowledgeable and dedicated to keeping our client’s children as close to them as possible.” – Greg Lake, ESQ.
Although we can do our best to prepare for the future, life doesn’t guarantee what exactly happens after a divorce or seperation. One parent may need to relocate for any number of reasons, which can create a wrinkle in your child custody arrangement in Nebraska and the need for your custody agreement to be modified. When one parent moves far enough that they are no longer a reasonable driving distance away, adjustments will need to be made assuming the parent that moves away has shared custody. If your child’s other parent with shared custody is permitted to move away, there are still ways to ensure children can maintain a positive relationship with both parents.
Make A Schedule To Communicate Important Events
Every situation with shared child custody in Nebraska is unique, but the end goal should always be to create a solution that keeps both parents engaged and informed, while focusing on the best interests of the child or children. This will give children the best chance at maintaining strong relationships with each of their parents. One tip for long-distance co-parents is to create a shared calendar that both parents and kids that are of an appropriate age have access to at any given time. Determine guidelines for each parent to abide by when it comes to communicating important events to ensure each parent has adequate notice to try to attend their child’s event. If the parent who moved knows all of the sporting events for their kid, they’ll have the ability to select a few of the games to commit to over the season. It can also help children to know that one parent may not be at every single game, but they still want to be supportive as much as they can.
Depending on the distance between the co-parents, it may not be possible for both parents to attend all of their children’s events. This happens to families of all compositions, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t make it to a volleyball game. Having a plan for clear and collaborative communication with your co-parent can help parents increase their efforts to spend more time with their children. This calendar will also be helpful to try and allow for children to participate in activities involving the other parent’s family. You likely have a specific plan set in your original custody to address where your children will be spending major holidays. Having open communication via a shared calendar can be a win-win for all involved.
Fortunately, there are a variety of calendar platforms that offer free sharing for co-parents to collaborate and inform one another. Here are a few ideas for sharing calendars to check out:
Prioritize Age Appropriate Communication For Your Child and Co-Parent
In 2023, it is amazing to see the expansion around communication and technology without needing to be face-to-face. This allows co-parents to facilitate communication for their children when they may not be in the same city anymore through video chat. Again, how you approach this will likely vary for your particular situation and the ages of the children involved. It is also okay to change how you’d like to approach communication with the out-of-town parent if you notice your child prefers one form of communication over the other or the current plan simply isn’t working. Also, try to keep an open line of communication with your co-parent to determine the best approaches for your child to communicate with the parent they are not currently with, this way everyone is on the same page.
Become Pen Pals With Your Child
One easy and low-cost method for out-of-town parents to communicate with their kids is by writing letters and sending them in the mail. This can help the relationship you have with your child because writing and mailing a letter shows the effort you go through to still be a part of their day by surprise. Once your child is really old enough to conceptualize the distance between their parents, they are likely ready to also send letters to their other parent, not just receive them. If your child isn’t speaking yet, they can send a little letter with finger painting or scribbling. If they can talk but not quite write yet, offer to write down what they would like to say then let them decorate the paper. As they age, this can be an opportunity for the kid to write to their other parent to gain academic, communication, and personal skills all while making a meaningful effort to share with the long-distance parent. Writing letters also illustrates to children stability and anticipation and can serve as keepsake memories.
Utilize Kid-Safe Instant Communication Methods
The internet can certainly be a scary place for parents to allow their kids access to. Luckily, there are parental controls that can be placed to minimize the functionality of a wifi enabled device that a kid may have access to. Every parent will have their own approach to screen time, what age to get a phone, and what their child will be allowed access to once they get a phone. With an email address, a child could have access to iMessage with their other parent when appropriate. Limited-function smartwatches like Gizmos can restrict who your child can text and call, in addition to when they have the ability to do so. You can also set up an old-fashioned email account for your child to use to communicate with their long-distance parent without them needing their own wifi enabled device.
Create A Set Schedule For Video Calls
If long distance will be a long-term communication challenge for your child and co-parent, get together to figure out the best time for everyone’s schedules for the child and their parent to video call each other during the week. Planning for a weekly video call can give your child a sense of stability and gives both the child and parent dedicated time to consistently catch up with one another. With a variety of video call platforms to choose from, kids can still get face time with their parents despite being in a different location.
Consider Ways To Make Traveling Between Parents Easier On The Child
Even if your child’s other parent is still in the state of Nebraska, that doesn’t make for quick transit to the long-distance parent. Travel can be even more challenging if the co-parent relocated out of state and air travel may be involved. One thing both parents can do for their child is to reduce stress around traveling and to offer distractions that make time go by faster. Some ideas to make traveling between the parent’s homes easier on the child include:
- Allowing for screen time not typically offered
- Purchasing a new reading book, activity book, or project specifically for the trip
- Watching age-appropriate shows and movies while traveling
- Letting the child shop for and pick snacks for traveling
- Making sure your child is packed for success at the other parent’s house; don’t let them leave without their favorite stuffed animal!
Key Takeaways For Long Distance Shared Custody
The logistics of deciding to move intensify if the custody of a child is involved. A parent hopefully would not up and move away without good reasons, but there are tips and tools to help all involved with the transitions and determining the new sense of normal now that long distance travel is involved. The key takeaway for long distance shared custody is to keep the well being of the child a top priority and to understand that will look different once one parent moves away. Communication and comfort can go a long way for a child whose parent no longer lives close to them.
Working With Child Custody Lawyers in Nebraska
We know that life is unpredictable and child custody arrangements may need to be modified for any number of reasons. If you need help modifying your child custody plan, the divorce and family law experts at Nebraska Legal Group are prepared to help. Fill out your free case evaluation today to get started.