Co-parenting when you live in different states takes both sensitive parenting and clear communication. Especially if the kids spend the entire school year with one parent, the other parent may feel they are missing their children’s childhood. It’s harder for the kids, too.
When your ex lives in a different state, you need to up your co-parenting game. You need to craft a parenting plan that works with minimal court intervention. You need to consider ways to reduce the burden on your children. Most of all, you need to communicate effectively with your ex. Here are some tips.
- As you develop your custody and parenting arrangements, make sure each parent gets to spend a significant period parenting. That may mean the kids spend the school year with dad and the whole summer vacation with mom. Or, if you’re homeschooling and can cooperate on that, more frequent swaps of the kids.
- When the kids are with one parent, the other parent should get to spend plenty of time with them by phone or through texting, video chats, and online gaming. Technology makes it possible to connect with your children on an ongoing basis even though you’re far away.
- Consider how to make the transitions easier on the kids. Most of the travel burden is likely to fall on your children, not you. Travel can be boring, taxing, or even terrifying for kids. Do what you can to reduce the stress. Provide fun, new games, and toys for long trips. Have their rooms all set and ready for when they arrive. Don’t schedule anything on the day your kids arrive. Talk to your kids about what would help them take to travel in stride.
- Focus on effective communication with your ex. One way to do that is to be “BIFF.” That is an acronym for “brief, informative, friendly and firm” – a style of communication that works well for many co-parents. Let go of old grievances and treat co-parenting more like a business partnership.
If your ex lives in a different state, going back to court is a real inconvenience. But even if everybody lived in North Carolina, taking your custody case back to court should be a last resort. That is why it’s crucial to get your custody and parenting arrangements right from the very beginning.
Whether you are considering divorce or are dealing with post-divorce conflict, be sure to work with a compassionate lawyer who will go the extra mile to help.