Creating a Long-Distance Parenting Plan for International Relocation
When one parent plans to relocate to another country, it poses a unique set of problems when establishing a parenting plan. The parent moving away can no longer spend time with the children regularly but must arrange some type of long-distance access.
Children may be too young to travel to another country, the region may be unsafe, or a parent may suspect that once a child leaves the country, they may not be returned. Children thrown into a different culture with a language they do not understand may feel uncomfortable and unhappy. These are just a few considerations to evaluate when establishing a long-distance parenting plan.
International Custody and Child Visitation
If one parent must move to another country for work or other reasons, the child custody agreement must be approved by the court. A long-distance visitation schedule must be put in place. The parent moving away may return to the USA one weekend a month, every other month, or could plan a more extended visit every two to three months. A regular video schedule may be necessary, with the child able to contact the parent as often as they wish. Holiday plans require special attention. The child may spend some or all of summer break or school holidays with the parent who has moved to another country, based on the child’s age.
Moving to Another Country After a Divorce with Children
Before planning to move to another country, meet with a family law attorney to discuss the issue of a parenting plan. A custody order in the USA may hold no legal weight in a foreign country, and you could be unable to get your child returned to you easily, if at all. These issues must be considered thoroughly, particularly if you are not confident that your child will be returned – a frightening and challenging situation that has affected many parents.
A Long-Distance Parenting Plan and Your Rights
Your occupation may require you to live or travel internationally. As a parent, you have the right to spend time with your child, but when residing in another country, a parenting plan is challenging. The child custody lawyer working with you must have extensive knowledge of the process of crafting a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child. A set of unique issues must be evaluated, including:
- What are the logistics of a child visiting a parent in another country?
- What are the costs of travel, and who is responsible?
- How frequently should a child travel to another country, if at all?
- Can the other parent be trusted to return the child to you?
- Is the other country a safe place to send a child?
Children with Special Needs
When a parent of a child with special needs plans to move to a foreign land, the child has a unique situation that must be addressed with great care. Issues such as language, the child’s sense of belonging, and international travel must be thoroughly evaluated when crafting a parenting plan that reflects what is in the best interests of a child.
Many children require specialized educational or support services, which may not be available in another country. While the USA has the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), many other countries do not have similar laws, posing a set of challenges. Get the assistance of a qualified attorney familiar with international parenting plans before considering a parenting plan in which a special needs child travels to another country. In many cases, the best approach is for the parent moving away to stay in close contact with the child over Skype or similar service and arrange for the parent to visit the USA frequently, rather than allowing a child to travel to another country.
If you are considering moving to another country after a divorce, your first and most critical step is to meet with a family law attorney to discuss the many issues impacting custody and visitation.
Contact Mattis Law, APC at (858) 328-4400 for assistance in complex international child custody matters.