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Managing child custody issues with long-distance parents

Co-parenting is difficult enough when both parties are in the same city or region. But, for parents who live in very different parts of Alberta or even in different provinces all together, managing child custody issues responsibly can be an even bigger hurdle. Maintaining a bond with a child allowing for reasonable visitation, and avoiding miscommunication is a challenge in long-distance parenting relationships.

There are many reasons parents might live in different areas. One might be a need to earn money; for example, a parent working a job such as mining, oil, military or truck driving that requires him or her to be gone for long periods. In another scenario, the parents may have always resided in different areas and may not have been a couple under the same roof at any time.

If a parent moves away or is frequently absent, it can cause children to feel rejected or like they have lost a loved one. There are some ways to mitigate these issues for children. Frequent contact, such as sending postcards, calling regularly, text messaging, and video chatting on a regular basis can help. When the child is with the parent who lives elsewhere, it is important for that parent to truly focus on them and to pay attention to their lives, friends and interests.

Parents who live away from their children should also be sensitive to their feelings about certain issues, such as a new love interest or a child with a second spouse. Ideally, the parent who has the most child custody can help assure the child that they are loved by the other parent and will not be replaced. It is also important that a parent check with an Alberta family lawyer before choosing to move away for work or personal reasons, as this may affect the child custody arrangement.

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