Interstate Custody Mediation
We live in an increasingly mobile society. Long gone are the days when most people lived in the same town for their entire lives. In fact, the United States is one of the most geographically mobile countries in the world. Jobs, educational opportunities, and a desire for change are a few of the many reasons people relocate to different states.
The desire to relocate for opportunities or other reasons doesn't disappear when people have children, but when the parents of a child aren't together, relocating gets trickier. Fortunately, there are ways that separated parents can live in different states and still both care for and see their child, such as including interstate custody.
Visitation Issues When Parents are in Different States
Agreeing on a parenting plan and visitation schedule is rarely easy – and it gets even trickier, legally and emotionally, when the parents will be living in different states. Multi-state parenting plans raise issues about what state's laws apply, what state has jurisdiction, what state will be the child's primary residence, and how the child will travel between the parent's homes. Interstate custody disputes are common but not unavoidable.
Tips for Creating Interstate Visitation Schedules
The following are a few tips to help you reach an agreement and avoid future disputes when developing an interstate visitation schedule for your child.
Prioritize Your Child's Best Interests
It is virtually inevitable that one parent will see the child a lot less in an interstate custody situation than the other parent. Parents are sometimes tempted to develop a schedule that focuses on their desire to spend time with their child rather than the child's best interests. Parents should instead continuously ask themselves what is in the child's best interests, then prioritize that.
For example, parents of a young child that isn't yet in school may be tempted to develop a schedule where the child spends one week with one parent then travels and spends the next week with the other parent. This gives the parents closer to equal time, but rarely is such frequent travel best for the child's mental and physical health.
Make it Detailed
Parents should make parenting plans as detailed as possible. Rather than just meeting the minimum parenting plan requirements for the state, parents should brainstorm as many situations that may arise as possible and develop a plan for how to address them. The more detailed a parenting plan is, the less likely you will encounter future disputes - and the quicker they will be resolved.
Decide Travel Logistics
The amount and length of travel that a child will need are unique to interstate custody. For this reason, travel logistics should be a part of any interstate parenting plan. Parents should, to the extent possible, decide on the details of the travel. This includes the modes of transportation (e.g. plane versus car), the supervision required during travel (e.g. does one parent need to accompany the child on a plane), and who will pay for the travel costs.
Interstate Custody Mediation
Even when both parents have the best intentions and follow the tips above, it can be difficult to come to a mutually agreeable interstate parenting plan. A disagreement on a single issue regarding an interstate visitation schedule can prevent a parenting plan from being finalized.
Resolving interstate custody disputes in court is expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. Interstate custody mediation can decrease the financial and emotional cost of custody disputes and make things easier on your child. An experienced mediator uses both the law and emotional considerations to help the parties reach a resolution together. Online mediation in interstate custody disputes can offer an additional benefit since neither parent has to travel out of state (or even out of their home) to attend mediation.