Parenting Over State Lines
It is becoming more common for parents to live in different states. Quite often, this is due to employment or other responsibilities. Co-parenting can seem challenging when you live a block away, let alone a state away. If you find yourself in this situation, you may wonder how you can continue to be involved in your child’s life.
The state which holds jurisdiction will dictate much of how visitation and child support are handled, however, you can still make efforts on your end to make the most of your situation.
According to Mark Baer, a family law attorney and professional mediator, “Unless a great deal of care are taken by the non-custodial parent, the relationship with the children is increasingly superficial” when the custodial parent moves away with the child (or vice versa). Not only that, but the child may grow to resent the custodial parent if that parent was the one who moved the child away, he says.
“The parent who is not there is not getting to meet [the child’s] friends and teachers or to see them in extracurricular activities. The child’s life is something the child knows is foreign to the other parent.”
It is difficult for a child to communicate and foster a relationship with a parent with whom he or she does not see often, thus harming the parent-child relationship.
In our previous article, Staying Involved in Your Kids Lives After Divorce we focused on the importance of showing your children you care about them through the time you put into your relationship. Even more important than being available physically for your child, they need you to be emotionally available.
Here are a few guidelines to help you parent the best you can, even from a distance.
Make the effort to have frequent contact
Living in a world of fast-growing technology means this just got easier. Parents now have the option to email, text, Skype, FaceTime, or even write letters. Even an ordinary phone call can be meaningful. Make the effort to have the communication, by whatever means necessary. Refer to your decree for when and how communication should occur. Your child shouldn’t feel like you only want to talk to them every few months, or only on their birthday.
During your correspondence with your child, it’s important to show a genuine interest in what is going on in their life. Ask about school, their friends, their hobbies, etc. Have conversations that allow you to get to know what their interests are. You can take it a step further by trying out some of their favorite hobbies. If your child has a series of books they can’t get enough of, you may try reading that series too. This will not only give you both something to talk about but will show how much you care.
Make the most of the visits
Though your parent time visits may be spread far and wide depending on your schedule, make the most of them. Try to make arrangements so that you are with your child as much as possible during their visit. Take time to plan activities and bond over time spent together. Think about the interests they’ve expressed during your communication with them and plan something special they’ll know is just for them. During your correspondence prior to their visit, let them know you are excited about their arrival.
Successful long-distance parenting is possible if you are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to make your child feel like they are loved and important no matter the distance between you. If you have a question on your custody case, let one of our knowledgeable attorneys assist you.
Peter is one of the top up-and-coming young lawyers in the state. Raised in Layton, Utah, Peter was named by the Standard-Examiner as among the top 2% of Utah’s high school seniors.
In addition to his current practice, Peter’s practical experience includes serving as extern corporate counsel for Shiseido, one of the world’s largest cosmetic corporations, and clerking for federal criminal appellate counsel. He has extensive experience in family law matters.
He enjoys feeling like he has made a difference helping his clients with their domestic case needs.