Staying on top of things is difficult for any co-parent, and those difficulties compound when you add distance to the equation. Long-distance parenting is no easy task, but it is achievable with careful planning, firm boundaries, and open communication.
In this article, we discuss common issues associated with long-distance parenting in Maryland, and we provide tips for effectively managing them.
The Legal Definition of Long-Distance Parenting in Maryland
Some states have a specific distance requirement for long-distance parenting. In Maryland, the actual distance can vary. The court typically considers whether that distance impacts frequent contact between parent and child.
Parents in this situation must work closely with their child custody lawyers. The goal is to create a parenting plan that allows for healthy relationships while meeting the child’s needs.
Long-distance parenting plans allow for frequently scheduled electronic visits. These can include phone calls, video chats, or other modern forms of communication. When written into a parenting plan, these visits are just as valid as in-person ones. Neither parent can block or neglect these interactions.
Drafting Your Long-Distance Parenting Plan
To create an optimal plan, make sure you designate:
- A holiday schedule
- Your visitation schedule
- The primary custodial parent
- How often visitation will occur
- School schedules, including plans for vacation time
- How the parents will communicate with each other
- Travel plans, including expenses and who pays for them
Parents should work together with an attorney to create these plans. A legal professional can help you make sure the plan is practical and enforceable, and they can help you spot items you may have overlooked. Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis offers mediation services to help you create a workable, reasonable parenting plan.
Creating a Communication System Between Parents
Make sure your communication methods are reliable and easy-to-use. Fortunately, technological advancements such as email and texting can provide excellent solutions. These modes of communication offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to stay in touch even if you are in different time zones or have busy schedules.
Remain mindful of each other’s schedules and demands. On the one hand, you don’t want to be pushy or whiney about missed communications. This just creates unnecessary strife. On the other hand, hold one another accountable for keeping in touch. Remember, the goal is to make sure the kids have healthy relationships with both adults.
Respecting Each Other’s Time
When it comes to long-distance parenting, you must show respect for your co-parent’s time commitments. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting around for someone who is running late or abruptly canceling plans.
To avoid these situations, communicate any changes as soon as possible. If you’re running late for a scheduled phone call or video chat, simply send a quick text message to let your co-parent know. When plans must change entirely, give everyone ample notice so they can adjust their schedule accordingly.
Developing Support Networks
Identify people in both parents’ lives that can offer support in stressful or difficult times. These people can be family members, friends, neighbors, or even professionals such as therapists or counselors.
Communicate openly with the people in your support network. Tell them about your situation and be clear about what you need from them.
Putting Your Children First
Remember, always focus on what is best for your children, and put your needs and wants second. It is easy to get caught up in personal desires. All decisions should be centered around the children, period.
Whenever possible, both parents should attend important events, such as school performances or parent-teacher conferences, to show their support.
By putting the children first, you can maintain healthy, successful relationships among all family members, even at a distance.
Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities
Educate yourself about the legal rights and responsibilities each co-parent has.
Depending on your custody agreement, your rights may include:
- Access to medical and educational records
- The ability to communicate with your child regularly
- The right to participate in major decisions about your child’s upbringing
You must also keep your responsibilities as a long-distance co-parent in mind. For example, your visitation schedule is court-ordered. You should prioritize keeping it as much as the other parent. As we’ve mentioned, you are also responsible for maintaining communication open with the other parent. Part of your agreement likely includes child support, which is a financial contribution you cannot ignore.
By understanding your rights and responsibilities as a long-distance co-parent, you will be better equipped to navigate this unique situation and help your child thrive.
Our firm can help you create a sensible parenting plan that benefits everyone involved. To schedule time with our team, call us at (410) 593-0040 or contact us online.