Child custody and parental visitation schedules are created in the best interest of the child(ren) with the goal of keeping the child(ren) as emotionally healthy and happy as possible under the circumstances. Implementing these schedules can be difficult and the situation is complicated even more when the parents live a significant distance apart.
A common child custody schedule has parents alternating major holidays and long breaks from school, like Christmas, spring and summer. Such an arrangement is crucial to allowing both parents to maintain a meaningful relationship with a child or children. The schedule should consider the child(ren)'s age, parents' work schedules, relationship dynamics and the distance between parents.
Arranging Child Travel
When parents sharing custody live a significant distance apart, extra care must be taken when making travel arrangements. Whether the child is traveling by bus, plane or train, safety is the number one priority.
The travel plan should be smooth enough that the child is not responsible for making decisions, but simply follows the established plan. A child should have a copy of names and phone numbers of contacts and the parents should have a backup plan should travel schedules or a person's ability to pick a child up suddenly changes.
If you are concerned about your child's other parent abducting your child during these long holidays, the safety group Kidproof recommends the following:
- Formalize all custody and visitation terms in court
- Ask the court to only allow supervised visits
- Do not allow your child to travel with the other parent
- Do not give the other parent your child's travel documents (passport, visa and/or birth certificate)
Taking these precautionary measures can help prevent a horrible situation before it becomes an issue.
Some may wonder if child support payments to the custodial parent must continue while the child is away from the custodial parent. The answer is almost always yes. This is because the major expenses like rent or a mortgage, transportation, utilities and insurance all must be paid even when the child is on vacation. However, a court or the parents can work out a reduced amount to properly reflect expenses.
Child custody situations are difficult, but can become a real headache when there is a significant distance between parents sharing custody. However, being cautious and working with the other parent can alleviate many concerns. The most important thing to remember throughout everything is that the ultimate goal is the child's sense of well-being and happiness.
Source: Kidproof, "Whose Home for the Holidays? Child Custody at Spring Break"