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Heather Jones

Sometimes, when two parties divorce, one moves out of state. The reasons for the move can vary, it could be for work or perhaps they just want to make a fresh start in a new place. Issues can arise when there are minor children involved. How can one party relocate and still maintain a meaningful relationship with their children? Child visitation rights for out of state father are the same as if the father remained in the state, but it does change how those rights are exercised.  

Key Takeaways 

  • Out-of-state fathers maintain the same visitation rights, but logistics and frequency of in-person visits are affected by distance.
  • Courts prioritize the child's best interests when determining custody and visitation, considering factors like age, school, and community ties.
  • Virtual visitation and written agreements on transportation and holiday schedules can help maintain meaningful relationships despite geographical challenges.

Obviously, if the father lives out of state, the timing and duration of visitation will be affected by geographical concerns. If the children remain in one state with mother and father moves away, he will have to accept the fact that in person visitation will be less frequent. When men ask if a father’s visitation rights are affected by moving out of state, the real question is not whether their rights are lessened by their move out of state but how visitation will look. Obviously, visitation cannot be the same as it would be if the father remained in close proximity to the children. Additionally, the father usually chooses to move out of state and, therefore, must cope with the fact that they are not physically close enough to exercise regular visitation during most months of the year. The court will consider the best interests of the child before accommodating either parent who chooses to move out of state, whether it is the mother or the father.  

Best Interests of the Child

When courts consider things like primary physical custody and visitation, the court always looks at it through the lens of what is best for the child, not what is desired or most convenient for the parents. If the child is very young, a long separation from mom may not be the best for the child. Furthermore, if the children are established in their school and have close contacts in their community, like family and close friends, the court will not impose a visitation schedule that will deprive the children of that support.  

  

Virtual Visits

Thankfully it is relatively easy these days to arrange for virtual visitation. With Skype and FaceTime the children can have court ordered time set aside weekly or even daily to sit and visit with their father. Virtual visitation can be helpful to maintain involvement in the daily activities and events in the lives of the children.  

  

Physical Visitation

Depending on the age and the school schedule of the children, it is possible that the father can split the holidays with the mother in order to see the children during the school year. Most parties are able to agree on a holiday visit schedule that switches off between the parents so that if one party had the holiday the year before, the other party would have it that year.  

  

Summer holidays are also an opportunity for an out of state father to have meaningful time with the children. There are usually arrangements that can be made for the children to visit for half or even all summer (although that is rare) with father at his home in the other state.  

Transportation

If a long distance must be traveled, then agreements will have to be made regarding who handles the costs and logistics of travel. It would be best that these agreements be in writing so that both parents know what is expected of them for any given visit. Examples of arrangements would be who arranges for travel both to and from the scheduled visitation, who pays what costs, and who travels with the child or children if they are very young. It is also helpful to establish a date by which the arrangements should be made and a penalty for not making the arrangements in time in order for everyone to know what comes next.  

  

Right of First Refusal

It is also helpful to address whether or not a parent can exercise a right of first refusal in a visitation schedule. The right of first refusal is if one parent cannot exercise the visitation time with the children, the other parent must be offered that time with the children before any other arrangements are made.  

  

To summarize, out of state fathers have the same right to visitation that a father who remained in state would have, it just takes extra steps and looks a bit different than the kind of visitation a father who lived nearby could have.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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