8 Tips on Child Custody When Parents Live in Different Cities

My friend Bashir stated, “I currently live in Seattle, and my ex resides in Portland, Oregon, with our child. We have joint custody, but now I want to know how to maintain this child custody when parents live in different cities.”

When parents live in different cities, child custody can be more complicated than when both parents live in the same location. However, there are a few options that can be considered to ensure that the child’s best interests are met:

child custody when parents live in different cities

8 Tips on Child Custody When Parents Live in Different Cities

First, you must know how child custody impacts moving to a different city. Maintaining child custody when parents live in different cities can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Here are 8 tips for creating a successful and healthy child custody arrangement when living apart:

Have a set schedule:

The essential part of 50/50 custody when parents live in different cities is to create and maintain a consistent visitation schedule. This should include pick-up and drop-off times, as well as vacation days, holidays, school breaks, etc.

In addition, make sure that this schedule is clear not only to the child but also to both parents. This will ensure that each parent knows their child’s whereabouts and prevents any potential legal issues or confusion. You may try to find some examples of long-distance custody & visitation schedule examples.

Keep lines of communication open:

When child custody is split between two cities, both parents need to stay in communication with each other. This may include emails, texts, phone calls, or even video chats. By keeping lines of communication open, both parties can ensure that the child is safe and being cared for while away from one parent.

Remember that shared custody when parents live in different states or cities can be stressful, so it’s best to remain respectful and professional. To avoid stress, some parents may try to prevent 50/50 custody. But, to me, this is the best method of child custody to ensure the child’s best interest.

Utilize technology:

In today’s world, there are many ways to keep tabs on your child while they’re away from you. Consider investing in a GPS tracking device or utilizing a child monitoring app. This will help to ensure that your child stays in the right areas and is safe and secure while out with the other parent.

It’s also a good idea to set up regular video calls with your child so that you can see them and make sure they are doing well.

Create a parenting plan:

Creating a parenting plan is one of the best ways to make child custody when parents live in different cities easier for both parties. This document should outline child support, visitation rights, and child care needs. It’s important to be clear about expectations and responsibilities so there are no misunderstandings or issues later on.

Most importantly, both parents must follow and be consistent with the plan and maintain regular communication. This will create stability for the child who lives between two homes in different cities. Parenting plans should always consider what is best for the child.

Maintain the parenting schedule strictly:

Be strict and consistent with the visitation schedule to make child custody work when parents live in different cities. This will help reduce confusion for the child, keep some structure in their life, and ensure that both parents get equal time together.

Additionally, if something comes up and the child cannot make visitation or the parent has to miss it, be sure to communicate this quickly so that both parties are on the same page.

Attend parenting classes:

Parenting classes can be extremely helpful for child custody when parents live in different cities. These classes can provide both parties with the tools and skills needed to navigate this situation successfully.

From understanding child development to communicating effectively with the other parent, parenting classes can be a great way to gain invaluable insight into child custody.

Seek counseling:

Maintaining custody of your child when you live in a different city than the other parent can be tough, but seeking counseling from both parties early on can make the entire process much smoother. Remember that children should never have to bear witness to any conflicts or tension between their parents.

Having an objective, unbiased third-party available can also make communicating between parents about child custody and child support easier.

Hire a custody lawyer:

If necessary, parents in the midst of a child custody battle should consider hiring a lawyer. An experienced lawyer will not only be able to help draft a parenting plan but can also represent both parties if needed.

When parents live in different cities, it might be more complicated than if they lived close together, so having somebody who knows the ins and outs of the law would come in handy. An attorney can also safeguard both parents’ rights during this process.

An experienced custody lawyer can provide both parents with legal advice and guidance throughout proceedings, especially if child custody decisions need to be made quickly or under difficult circumstances.

How does custody of children work if the parents live in different states

How does custody of children work if the parents live in different states?

Custody of children when the parents live in different states is complicated and difficult to navigate without an experienced lawyer.

Generally, if the parents live in different states, one of them must establish residence in the state where the child (or children) resides for that parent to be recognized as having legal custody. This is important because it gives the parent certain rights, such as making educational and medical decisions for the child. 

In addition, if a parent has sole custody, they have authority over all decisions regarding their child, regardless of their state. This includes where they will live, which school they will attend, and so on.

The other parent may still receive visitation rights or parenting time with the child, depending on what is stipulated in a court order. Suppose both parents make this request to the court and provide proper evidence to support their claim. In that case, a court may award joint custody allowing both parents to share legal responsibility for their child’s upbringing and care. 

When establishing specific visitation schedules between two different states, there are things to consider, like travel costs, time away from school or work commitments, local laws regarding parental time-sharing, etc.

Flexibility is sometimes essential due to unforeseen circumstances such as job relocation or illness. However, both parties should agree upon any major adjustments before being submitted to a court for approval. 

It is also wise to seek advice from an attorney specializing in family law because some states have residency requirements that must be met before paperwork can even be filed with the court system.

Ultimately it is best if both parties can agree on the solution which works best for everyone involved, including their children, and then submits that agreement to a court for review and approval.

Do you need more tips about Child custody when parents live in different states? I think the above eight tips are enough, but if you want to learn more, watch this video:

FAQs on Child Custody When Parents Live in Different Cities

What is long-distance parenting?

Long-distance parenting is a parenting situation in which the parent and child are geographically separated by distance. This type of parenting typically occurs when one or both parents travel for work, move for school or work opportunities, are in the military, or have gone through a divorce. 

Long-distance parenting often involves more communication between parent and child through technology, such as phone calls, emails, texts and video chats. 

Long-distance parenting can be more challenging than traditional parenting as it requires careful planning and organization to ensure that the child receives adequate care and attention from both parents. It may also involve creative problem-solving when issues arise due to the distance between parent and child

How do you deal with long-distance parenting?

Long-distance parenting poses unique challenges for families, as it requires greater levels of trust and communication to ensure that both parents remain involved in their children’s lives.

To succeed at long-distance parenting, I suggest two different actions – staying connected and ensuring continuity of values. Staying connected can be difficult, but tools like Skype and Facetime help bridge the distance gap by providing visual contact between separated family members.

At the same time, care must be taken to ensure that the child in this situation maintains a sense of consistency in their life. This means maintaining a consistent approach to parenting guidelines from both parents despite separation, such as having a standard bedtime or daily schedule when possible.

By putting effort into building trust, staying connected with all members of the family, and establishing continuity in their environment, long-distance parenting can work successfully for everyone.

I want to share another thing regarding this point. In this era of social media, be much more careful about posting pictures of your child. I have seen cases where a dispute arose between the two custodial parents for this issue.

How far can a parent move with joint custody in Minnesota?

Moving with joint custody of a child in Minnesota can be limited. Generally, the court will require that a parent notify the other parent of such a move and receive consent before they can legally take their child out of state.

If one parent objects to the move, then a joint custody agreement may have to be altered through court proceedings. When deciding, the court focuses on whether the requested relocation is in the child’s best interest. Factors like the impact on quality of life and educational opportunities for the child are important considerations.

Ultimately, if either parent wishes to move with joint custody rights over a child, they must first seek approval from the court to comply with state and federal laws.

What is considered long-distance custody in California?

Regarding custody arrangements in California, long distances can mean different things for different parents. Generally speaking, the state considers anything over a two-hour drive long-distance custody.

If you share custody of your child with someone who lives beyond this two-hour limit, then the court may determine you have a long-distance parenting arrangement and set visitation guidelines accordingly.

Long-distance custody also doesn’t have to be just between two geographical locations; parents may live within the same state but several miles apart, making certain accommodations necessary for transfer, drop-offs, and access to after-school activities.

Ultimately, each situation will be unique and deserve its own special considerations based upon what is best for the child’s well-being while keeping all parties involved satisfied.

What custody arrangement is best for a child?

Deciding on the right custody arrangement for a child can be difficult for everyone involved. The most important factor to consider is the best outcomes for the child. Parents should work together to develop a plan allowing the child to have quality relationships with parents and extended family members.

Depending on each family’s unique situation, choosing an appropriate arrangement could include joint or shared custody, having one parent as the primary guardian with visitation rights for the other, or another arrangement that allows both parties to remain united as they raise their child.

Whatever approach is chosen should ensure that the child’s needs are prioritized. Whenever compromise or cooperation is necessary, it should be remembered that what matters most is what is best for the child.

What are the visitation rights for parents living in different places?

Visitation rights for parents who live apart can be complicated. When two parents or guardians are no longer living in the same household, communication can become more difficult, and navigating visitation rights becomes an important matter to discuss.

Generally speaking, every state has laws that guide custody and visitation rights. Still, it is up to the individual family to create a plan that works best for their situation.

In some cases, this can involve travel between households or the parent who lives farther away flying in on occasion so they can have time with their children.

Ultimately, either parent or legal guardian could seek court orders to enforce visitation arrangements if needed.

What are the child custody laws for unmarried parents living in different states?

Unmarried parents living in different states often face a complex web of child custody laws when negotiating how they share custody of their children.

Each state has its rules and regulations surrounding such cases, varying on the details, including parental rights and visitation rights, as well as factors such as who has primary physical custody and legal make-up agreements related to these situations.

To ensure that the interests of both parties are fairly represented and the child’s safety is confirmed, it is vital to seek legal help. An experienced attorney can advise and even represent one or both parties in court if needed.


Child custody when parents live in different states or cities can be complex, but it isn’t impossible. With a few tips and tricks, child custody arrangements don’t have to be a negative experience for either parent or child.

Child custody between two homes in separate cities can be smooth and successful by creating a parenting plan, maintaining the visitation schedule strictly, and seeking professional help if needed. Also, remember that the child’s best interests should always be considered when making child custody decisions.

Creating an amicable agreement with both parents is the best way to ensure the child’s well-being. With clear communication, careful planning, and necessary legal assistance, child custody when parents live in different cities can work out for everyone’s benefit. If people can manage child support from Puerto Rico to Florida, you can handle this for the best of your child.

About Shakir Ahmed

Head of the editorial team. I hold a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from UoL. Written hundreds of articles on divorce, child custody, employment and other human rights law topics for blogs and websites worldwide. Worked 6 years as a relationship development trainer. For any communication regarding any legal matter, please feel free to email me at shakir@lawyersnlaws.com

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