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Long Distance Parenting Plans for Military Families

Joseph A. DeWoskin, P.C. June 11, 2024

Happy African American soldier in military uniform looking at camera with familyLong-distance parenting creates distinct challenges, especially for military families. With deployments, relocations, and other demands, maintaining a solid parent-child relationship requires thoughtful planning and understanding.  

Family law attorney Joseph A. DeWoskin aims to help military families create effective long-distance parenting plans.

This guide ensures that both parents remain actively involved in their children's lives, regardless of the miles that may separate them. 

What Are Long Distance Parenting Plans? 

Long-distance parenting plans are agreements between separated or divorced parents who live far apart. These plans specify how parents will share responsibilities, communicate with their children, and make important decisions.  

For military families, these plans must be flexible enough to accommodate the unpredictability of military life while ensuring stability and consistency for the children. 

Key Components of a Long-Distance Parenting Plan 

1. Communication Schedule 

Communication is vital in any long-distance relationship. Establishing a regular schedule for phone calls, video chats, and messaging helps maintain a connection. Consider: 

  • Video calls: Schedule regular video calls, such as weekly or bi-weekly, to allow for face-to-face interaction. 

  • Phone calls: Set specific times for daily or nightly phone calls to check in and share daily experiences. 

  • Text and email: Encourage frequent text messages and emails for quick updates and sharing of photos and videos. 

2. Visitation Schedule 

Creating a visitation schedule that works for both parents and children is very important. Consider: 

  • School breaks: Plan visits during school breaks, such as summer, winter, and spring breaks. 

  • Holidays: Alternate major holidays between parents, ensuring each parent gets quality time with the children during special occasions. 

  • Extended visits: Arrange for extended visits when possible, such as during a parent's leave from deployment. 

3. Decision-Making Authority 

Clearly outline how decisions regarding the children's education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities will be made. This section should specify: 

  • Major decisions: Which parent will have the authority to make significant decisions, or will both parents share this responsibility? 

  • Day-to-Day decisions: How everyday decisions will be handled, ensuring consistency in routines and rules. 

4. Travel Arrangements 

Travel logistics can be complicated, especially for long-distance visits. Consider: 

  • Travel costs: Determine how travel expenses will be shared between parents. 

  • Travel arrangements: Plan who will be responsible for arranging and accompanying the children during travel. 

  • Emergency plans: Establish protocols for emergencies during travel, including contact information and contingency plans. 

5. Education Coordination 

Education is a critical aspect of any child's life, and coordinating schooling between parents can be challenging in a long-distance situation. Consider: 

  • School communication: Both parents should have access to the children’s school records, report cards, and teacher communications. 

  • Homework and projects: Establish a plan for helping with homework and school projects, utilizing virtual tools if needed. 

  • Parent-Teacher conferences: Arrange for both parents to participate in parent-teacher conferences, either in person or via video call. 

6. Emotional Support 

Children require emotional support, especially in the context of separation from one parent. Consider: 

  • Counseling services: Provide access to counseling or therapy services for the children, if needed. 

  • Support groups: Explore support groups designed for military families or children of separated parents. 

  • Consistency and reassurance: Both parents should consistently reassure the children of their love and support, maintaining a sense of security and stability. 

7. Financial Responsibilities 

Long-distance parenting arrangements can complicate finances. Clearly outlining financial responsibilities helps prevent misunderstandings. Consider: 

  • Child support: Specify the amount and frequency of child support payments, adhering to legal guidelines. 

  • Extracurricular costs: Determine how expenses for extracurricular activities, including sports, music lessons, and other interests, will be shared. 

  • Medical expenses: Specify how medical and dental expenses, including insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs, will be divided between parents. 

8. Flexibility and Review 

Life circumstances change, and parenting plans should be designed to adapt accordingly. Consider: 

  • Regular review: Schedule periodic reviews of the parenting plan to address any changes in circumstances or the children's needs. 

  • Flexibility clause: Incorporate a clause that allows for flexibility in the plan, ensuring that modifications can be made as needed without extensive legal intervention. 

  • Conflict resolution: Establish a method for resolving disputes related to the parenting plan, such as mediation or arbitration. 

By integrating these key components, military families can create effective long-distance parenting plans that support their children's well-being and stability amidst the demands of military life. 

Special Considerations for Military Families 

Parenting plans for military families must also consider the following: 

1. Deployment 

Deployment can significantly impact a parenting plan. Consider: 

  • Alternative communication: Use technology, such as video messages or pre-recorded videos, to stay connected during deployment. 

  • Temporary guardianship: Designate a trusted family member or friend to act as a temporary guardian during deployment if necessary. 

2. Relocation 

Frequent relocations require flexibility in the parenting plan. Consider: 

  • Relocation notice: Agree on a notice period for relocations to allow time for adjustment and planning. 

  • Revised visitation: Adapt visitation schedules to accommodate new locations, ensuring continued contact between the children and both parents. 

Laws Governing Long-Distance Parenting Plans in Kansas and Missouri 

Understanding state-specific laws is necessary for creating a compliant and effective parenting plan. Numerous statutes and guidelines impact long-distance parenting plans in Kansas and Missouri. Both states prioritize the best interests of the children involved and require parents to submit a detailed parenting plan.  

Both Kansas and Missouri also mandate parents to submit a written notice before they relocate. In Kansas, they must submit it at least 30 days before moving; in Missouri, the requirement is 60 days.  

Speak With a Military Family Law Attorney in Kansas City, Kansas 

If you need assistance with your long-distance parenting plan, Joseph A. DeWoskin, P.C. is here to help. With his empathetic nature, military background, and years of experience in the law, he understands what you’re going through. Call today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward securing a stable and loving environment for your children.