Should We Change 50/50 Custody Now That Ex is Moving Away?

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“Hi. I live in Florida and have been divorced for 3 years. My ex and I share custody of our two children. We have always had about 50/50 when it comes to visitation. Recently, he told me that he is planning on moving 3 hours away this summer and would like to have the children once a month, on the weekend. He wants me to drive half way to meet him for pick up and drop off. A few questions about the move… Am I obligated to do meet him in the middle for drop offs and pick ups? During the summer, when he has the children for visitation, do I pay for camps he puts them in (as I get child support), or is he responsible? Can parents have shared custody when they live 3 hours apart or should the primary residential parent have sole custody? Lastly, if the children will now be living with me almost all of the time, is he able to claim one of the children on taxes or do I claim them as they will be with me almost always?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Thank you for you time and answer to my questions. We are going to come with an amicable schedule for us that works but I would like to understand the law and what my obligations are before we meet to modify our custody and visitation agreement.”

First, you are to be highly commended for working with your ex to co-parent; it is the single most important thing you can do to help ensure that your children grow up secure and with the least amount of fall-out from the disuniting of your family. Good for you!

With respect to your questions, yes, you absolutely can maintain shared custody even though your ex is moving 3 hours away, and I applaud you for wanting to do it. The reality is that you will end up making more of the decisions, but that is not an issue for shared custody.

While I am not a Florida attorney, generally speaking the parent who chooses to enroll a child in an activity is responsible for paying for that activity. The sole exception is daycare necessary to further employment or education. So day camps will be your ex’s responsibility if that is what he chooses to do.

As for taxes, unless your order dictates otherwise, the law is that whomever has primary custody gets the deduction. But where there is more than one child, I always advocate that you split the deductions (yes, you can do that!), and each take one child. That way you both get the benefit of the deduction.

Finally, with respect to meeting him half way (both physically and with respect to his request!), many states require that parents share transportation, and even if they didn’t, I’d say do it. In fact, I’d say that it should be at least two weekends a month, not just one. Sure, it’s a drive for you (but only an hour and a half for each of you), but it will be so very good for your children (and the alternative so very bad). Grab some books on tape and take advantage of the time. Before you know it, your children will be grown and gone – and when they are, they will look back on this time and really appreciate what you have both done to help ensure that they grow into amazing young adults who are well-adjusted, rather than having the issues that so many young people suffer due to their parents’ divorce.

Recommended Reading (click on the picture for details):
Does Wednesday Mean Mom's House or Dad's? Parenting Together While Living Apart

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Author: Anne P. Mitchell, Esq.

Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. is a noted family law expert, Internet law expert, and Professor of Law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose. She is the author of "Surviving Divorce: the Single Father's Guide" and "The Email Deliverability Handbook"

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