Long Distance Custody

Divorce is always a complex issue. A person’s entire life can get rearranged in a short time. The grieving process eventually heals, and people adapt to a new life. The issue of complexity is exasperated whenever children are involved. As you and your ex go separate ways, what happens to your children when life takes you elsewhere? It’s not uncommon for divorced couples to relocate, after all. Is this allowed? Can your ex move your kids away from you? What counts as long-distance custody? Can your ex move out of state? In this article, we’ll answer these questions.

What is Long Distance Custody?

The State of Florida qualifies parents to have long-distance custody if they are more than 50 miles away from one another. It doesn’t matter where they are so long as that distance is met. If your ex lives in Dothan, Alabama, and you live in Chipley, it wouldn’t count as long-distance custody as the actual distance between you is under 50 miles. The state border doesn’t matter.

Can My Spouse Relocate?

Yes, but there is a process that must be followed. First, even if you and your ex agree to live farther apart, you need to change your parenting plan. In Florida, you must have a long-distance parenting plan approved by a Judge. Without this approval, it is usually not allowed for somebody to move more than 50 miles. Your ex may be able to move for periods of up to 60 days temporarily, but anything more requires a court order.

What is a Long-Distance Parenting Plan?

As the name implies, this is a parenting plan to account for the distance between spouses. This plan intends to ensure both parents enrich the child’s life. The parenting plan covers as many situations as possible so that parents know what to expect across large distances.

For example, it establishes decision-making responsibility. Shared parental responsibility, for example, gives parents equal say on matters. Some couples opt for decision-making authority, which similarly gives parents equal say but allows one parent executive authority in case of disagreements. Meanwhile, sole responsibility gives a single parent authority over decisions. Details like who pays for travel expenses, when travel and contact occur, and more are included in this plan.

This plan should also consider who can register a child for extracurricular activities at school. It might complicate matters if one parent gets a child involved in a sport or responsibility without the other’s knowledge. This could undercut that parent’s time with the child. In addition to standards of communication and holidays, the plan includes penalties. Parents who fail to maintain contact or miss appointments can face the consequences.

Establishing a Long-Distance Parenting Plan

The best thing you can do is work on this plan with your ex’s help. If this isn’t possible, or the relationship is strained, you may want to work with a mediator. You can read more about mediation services on our website. Once you and your ex work out the parenting plan, you must submit it to the court, where it can be approved or amended.

There are many things the court requires to be in a good long-distance parenting plan. However, these plans can be complex, and without a good understanding of the process, you may lose some rights. This is why legal representation and counsel are important. At Thompson Law, we take this matter seriously, and we might be able to help.