Handling Long-Distance Visitation
December 7th, 2016 by CLLB Law
Legally speaking, childhood lasts only 18 years. The rest of life is considered adulthood. With that much disparity, it’s no wonder we lose touch with what it’s like to be a kid. Still, adult situations affect children deeply, and divorce is no exception. That’s not to say divorce isn’t often the path that’s best for everyone in a family, but when you’re caught up in the hullabaloo of the adult aspects, keep in mind the kid POV.
No one knows exactly what to say or do to help children thrive in any kind of split custody schedule. But it’s vital to try to tap into your own life markers and remember how adult interactions – particularly your relationships with your parents — made you feel when you were a kid. It’s easy for children to misinterpret the actions and emotions that grown-ups project. As adults, it’s easy to get trapped in our own problems. It’s essential that we remember, however, that we are more than that – we are the most important people in our children’s lives. What we say, don’t say, do, and don’t do influence them significantly.
Whether or not everyone lives under the same roof, the reality is that most children mature into healthier, more secure adults when both parents are involved in their lives. To that end, most courts tend to rule in favor of allowing the child to have continuing contact with both parents. Children do best when they have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with both Mom and Dad. This becomes more difficult as the number of miles between households increases.
Some of the strain can be eased through the instant contact allowed by technology. Parents who were once absent can now be with the child on the screen of a phone, computer, or tablet. Mom or Dad can go in the car, lie in bed and read a story, listen when someone’s had a bad day. However, constant contact and immediate access to your child is not often realistic, and is no substitute for actual time. Communication and cooperation is implied in shared custody schedules, but putting that kind of cooperation into practice is a different story. Terms like “reasonable” are used in many custody agreements, but “reasonable” is a subjective concept. A “reasonable” parent should understand the importance of not only allowing communication with the other parent, but should encourage it, for the sake of the child.
Here are some things to consider when dealing with a long-distance custody arrangement:
- Custody, even short periods of time spent, is not just a right — it’s a responsibility. It is to the child’s benefit that parents try to make the most of the time shared.
- Talk to your children and keep the dialogue open, not just about how they’re feeling, but also about how you’re feeling.
- Pay attention to changes in behavior or performance at school. Stress and anxiety can be real issues when children are feeling at fault for their parents’ split or other problems surrounding the divorce.
- If there are signs of distress, therapists can help children cope and also help teach parents how to ease the strain.
Child custody agreements can be legally complex, not to mention emotionally challenging. If you have any questions about this topic or if you have an agreement you would like to discuss, you can find out more by contacting one of the child custody attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, IN. Call us today at (812) 725-8224 or use our convenient online form.