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Parenting your child is hard enough when you are divorced, but with an ex-spouse who’s several hours away, the distance makes custody arrangements complicated. Your child has to go to one school, needs to be in one place long enough to do homework and activities, and needs a sense of routine. You also realize that your child needs his other parent. What can you do to make this work?

The good news is that there are many ways to arrange custody schedules in situations like yours. For example, if you live in Columbus but your ex lives in Toledo, that’s only around two and a half hours apart. Weekend visits may take a little time out of your day but are possible, since each parent has a short drive to meet in the middle. On the other hand, one parent could make the longer trip one way and the other could make a longer trip when your child’s returning home, if that works better for your schedule.

Parenting apart doesn’t have to mean not seeing one parent

Even if weekend visits don’t work out regularly, it’s possible to make sure a child gets time with the other parent through digital means. Virtual visitation gives your child the opportunity to connect to his other parent through a video chat. Emails, phone calls and even social media make it easier than ever to stay in touch. For major events, a video call even allows the parent who is too far away to view the event live.

Virtual visitation isn’t the only solution. For parents who share custody, another good idea is to divide your child’s time based on the school year. Long holidays could be spent with the parent who lives further away, giving the child time to focus on his studies during the times when he’s at his primary residence.

In the case that the parent decides to move closer, you can always adjust your custody arrangements to address that change. For a parent who’s only a half-hour away, weekend visits are much easier. Parents who travel for business may have time to stop in to see their child on the way home, or they could find ways to make time for their children on special occasions.

Parenting arrangements have to be designed for your specific circumstances. No two situations are alike, so it’s important to sit down with your to-be-ex-spouse to talk about what you expect. Planning ahead of time makes the changes easier for everyone involved.