Handling Long-Distance Visitation
Working out a shared parenting time schedule can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but when long distances are involved, it becomes much more complex. When parents live far away from each other, the child lives with one parent and visits the other parent. The amount and schedule of visitation should depend on the child’s age, the needs of the child, and what works for the parents.
Illinois child visitation guidelines are flexible; so as long as you and your co-parent are in agreement, you can come up with any visitation schedule that suits your lifestyles and that of your children. If you are not in agreement, it helps to have a lawyer on your side to work things out.
The compassionate and experienced Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the stresses of divorce and recognize that children’s well-being is paramount. We offer a free initial consultation and to examine your individual situation and help devise visitation solutions that are best for you and your children.
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Standard Long Distance Schedules
Long-distance visitation creates problems in direct proportion to the distances involved. While distance between the child and the non-custodial parent may prevent them from spending as much time together as they would like, they can still have a close relationship if a schedule of physical, telephone, and video chatting contacts is made and adhered to.
It’s easier to create visitation schedules when distances are drivable. When flying is necessary, especially when the child is too young to fly unaccompanied, there are many factors to consider. In addition to deciding who will travel with or transport the child, you will need to decide on who is going to pay for travel expenses, who is in charge of making travel arrangements, where the visiting parent will stay, etc.
While parents have the opportunity to create a unique visitation schedule that best suits their needs, here are some examples you can consider and build upon:
- The child will spend Spring and/or Winter Break with the non-custodial parent each year, and one month of or the entire summer vacation with the non-custodial parent.
- The child will spend Thanksgiving vacation (from Wednesday to Sunday) with the non-custodial parent every other year, and on alternate years will spend seven days of Christmas vacation (to include Christmas Day) with the non-custodial parent.
- The non-custodial parent shall be allowed to visit the child for periods of up to five consecutive days up to five times throughout the year, after giving a two-week notice of the visit. Additional visitation is possible if approved by the custodial parent.
Long holidays should be shared or given to the nonresidential parent whenever possible, since the nonresidential parent is not able to have the child for short holidays.
Times and places for exchanging the child should be greed upon in advance. Decide on whether you want to have a set schedule for telephone and video time, or if the non-custodial parent can contact the children spontaneously. Children should be allowed to contact the non-custodial parent whenever they want to as long as it is reasonable and in the child’s best interests.
Factors to Consider When Creating a Schedule
In creating the best schedule for both parents and children, consider the following factors:
- Age — Babies and toddlers forget easily, so they need to see each parent as frequently as possible. Older children are more flexible, but teenagers need a schedule that fits with their social life and activities.
- The child’s temperament, special needs, and ability to adapt to change — How easy is it for the child to receive needed medical care and support during visitation, and how does the child adjust to change switching between parents’ homes?
- Travel time and costs — The distance between the parents’ homes, costs of travel and traveling time determine what schedules are practical.
- Each parent’s schedule and lifestyle — You and your ex have to schedule parenting time around each parent’s work schedule and other obligations. Both parents must have a stable home environment for the child.
- The relationship between the parents — Scheduling requires communication and coordination between the parents. If you are in a high-conflict situation, it’s best to make a schedule that is consistent and requires less communication, and to have limited interaction during exchanges.
- Your child’s preferences — If your children are old enough and mature enough, consider their needs and preferences for parenting time schedules.
- Any history of abuse or violence — Your child’s safety is paramount. If there is a history of substance abuse, illegal activities, or physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, you may need to get the courts involved and to have only supervised visitation. Parents who are incarcerated maintain some of their legal rights to visitation, if visits to the prison don’t have a negative effect on the child.
Contact Us for Help and a Free Consultation
Since issues regarding long-distance parenting are so vital to a child’s well-being, it makes sense to seek legal counsel before agreeing to any parenting schedule. The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws and the system and can guide you through the process. We represent and advise clients in all types of child custody matters, and there is no charge for your initial consultation.
Delaying can only complicate your situation, so contact us today. We represent clients in DuPage County, and throughout northern Illinois and the Chicagoland area. Your free initial consultation at our office can be scheduled either online or by calling 630-305-0222.