What You Need to Know About Long Distance Parenting Plans

mother and child walking together

You and your spouse are calling it quits, and unfortunately, your children are in the middle of it all. To make matters even more complicated, one of you will be moving away, which means that your children can’t easily see you both from one week to the next.

What now? Specifically, how can the parent who moves far away keep the parent-child relationship strong? Can long-distance parenting actually work?

Continue reading for my insights on what you need to know about effective long-distance parenting plans in California.

What to Take into Consideration for Your Long-Distance Parenting Plan in California

When you’ll be taking part in long-distance co-parenting, not just any parenting agreement will do. Instead, you need to create a plan that is tailored to your and the other parent’s unique living situations.

To start, you need to take into consideration several factors that impact long-distance parenting. For instance, how old are your children, and how mature are they for their ages? After all, a parenting plan that may work for a teen would not necessarily work for a 2-year-old child. In addition, not all teenagers may be mature enough to handle flying alone between the parents’ homes.


Another important factor to consider when creating a long-distance parenting plan is how far apart the two parents are. If you can drive to the other parent’s house, then parenting time that is semi-monthly or monthly may work. Meanwhile, this might not be realistic if the other parent lives hours away by plane. In addition, frequent flights may not work if you or the other party doesn’t have the economic means to handle this.

Developmental Issue

Let’s say that your child has a development need. You will need to make sure that your parenting plan reflects this. As an example, maybe your child doesn’t handle travel or changes to their routine well. In this situation, the other parent may have to travel to your child versus having your child travel to him or her every time.

Visitation Section of the Long-Distance Parenting Plan

An important section to include in your long-distance parenting plan is one on how you and the other parent will handle visitation. For instance, your plan should spell out how often the other parent and your child will see each other. Also, how much time will your child spend with the co-parent? Keep in mind that visitation will look different during the academic year compared with during a school break.

In addition, discuss how you’ll handle vacations and holidays. Also, spell out how much advance notice is necessary to schedule visitation or to change an existing visitation schedule.

Tips for Creating Long-Distance Visitation Schedules in California

Creating the perfect long-distance co-parenting schedule—one that will work well for all parties involved—requires foresight and a little patience. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and the other party when working on long-distance parenting plans in California.

  • With whom will your child spend his or her school vacation with?
  • On which special holidays do you or the other parent plan to keep your child?
  • How much advance notice (e.g., 14 days) should the parent without custody give the parent with custody before paying a visit to the child?
  • Should both parents have private phone calls with the child, or should every call be monitored?
  • If your child has a long visitation period with the other parent during the summer months, should he or she be returned home a week before the first day of school to settle in?
  • If the other parent lives in another country, do both of your countries recognize Hague Convention Agreements? Also, will safety or passports be a problem?

Also, consider the following tips for addressing transportation requirements as you create your long-distance co-parenting schedule:

  • Determine which parent will drive the child when it’s time to do a visit. Consider meeting halfway to exchange your child to make visit-related travel easier.
  • If flying is required, determine who will fly with the child if he or she isn’t old enough to fly independently.
  • Figure out who will pay for travel expenses or if you will divide the travel expenses. In some cases, the parent who moved away is the one who will absorb the costs.

Communication Section of the Plan

Another important part of your parenting plan for co-parenting long-distance is how you will handle communication when executing the plan. For instance, you could use email, video chats, or phone calls to keep in touch with your child while he or she is spending time with the other parent. Also, take into consideration how frequently you and your child will communicate when you are apart.

Receive Help with a Long-Distance Parenting Plan Today

Creating a parenting plan can understandably be challenging, especially if both parties don’t readily see eye to eye on how to handle child custody and visitation. However, figuring out how to create a long-distance parenting plan can make things even more complicated for both the parents and the children.

The good news? I, family law attorney Michael C. MacNeil, can help you to successfully create a long-distance parenting plan in California. I realize that long-distance parenting can have major effects on the child, so I will make sure that both your child’s best interests and your rights are upheld during all stages of the negotiation process.

Get in touch with me today to find out more about how to handle long-distance co-parenting from a legal standpoint. I’ll help you to make the most of your co-parenting situation in the years ahead.

Read more about understanding child custody in California:

California Child Custody FAQ    |   Help for Unmarried Parents   |   Child Custody Legal Services

About Michael MacNeil

Michael C. MacNeil is a San Diego Family Law and Criminal Defense attorney. With a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, MacNeil has a solid understanding of our justice system. As a member of the State Bar of California, MacNeal can practice before all courts in the state. MacNeil believes that the law should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. With over 20 years of experience, Michael C. MacNeil is passionate about the law and will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for you. Call Mr. MacNeil at 858-922-7098.