The Effect of Distance on Child Custody

Co-parenting is complicated, and many factors influence your parenting plan. To create a reasonable custody schedule, you must consider everything from your job schedule to your finances.

Your distance from the other parent has a major impact on your custody agreement. Some would argue that distance is the most influential part of any parenting plan.

Here are some ways that distance impacts child custody.

Distance Influences Scheduling

With our ability to move quickly from place to place, there are distances we sometimes consider “small.” For instance, if your favorite restaurant is three miles away, you probably consider it to be “close.”

However, think of three miles in terms of parenting. Imagine how hard it is to get the kids loaded and unloaded for any trip. Now imagine them making that trip several times per week.

Also consider how three miles affects schooling. Chances are, the busses will go near one parent’s house but not the other’s. This means that one parent must drive the kids to school on certain days. It also means that the kids must be prepared to attend school regardless of their location. Backpacks, supplies, and homework must be readily available.

Distance Influences Social Lives

Remember, children have lives of their own, a fact that becomes truer as they age. They have nearby relatives, friends, family members, church groups, extracurricular activities, and so on.

If you regularly displace children from their “home base” environment, then you disrupt these important social circles. A good custody plan should consider the child’s life outside of school and accommodate accordingly.

Distance Influences Healthcare

For healthy kids, distance should not be much of an issue. If they get sick or hurt at either parent’s house, there should be access to emergency services.

Kids with chronic illnesses or special needs, however, need constant access to their doctors. This may not be possible when parents are far apart. One parent must manage these health concerns, and they need easy access to the child’s healthcare providers.


The point is this: Even a small distance apart can have a huge impact on your custody percentage. Unless you live right next door to the other parent, it’s unreasonable to assume you could achieve a 50/50 or even a 60/40 split.

The problems exacerbate the further the distance is. At long distances, you may be able to see the kids only for Spring Break or other similar vacation days.

Remember, child custody should always be in your kids’ best interests. You should be prepared to make sacrifices for their good.

If you’re having difficulty creating a pragmatic, useful parenting plan, consider attending mediation. This process allows you to meet with a legal professional who works for both spouses. Your mediator is there to help you discuss your needs and negotiate in a civil, productive way. They can also provide suggestions when finding common ground becomes difficult.

Our firm is here to help with parenting plans and custody negotiations. Reach out to us today for a free consultation. You can call us at (801) 901-7046 or contact us online.