Interstate Parenting Plan

A family moving to a new state faces many initial challenges like taking in the new surroundings, finding a new school for the kids, and making new friends.  While transporting the entire family somewhere new is not easy, the situation can be further complicated if only one parent is moving states.  One parent moving states while the processes of or after a divorce is not uncommon, as many parents move in order to go to school, to take a new job or to be closer to extended family.   It is critical to have aninterstate parenting plan to support your child’s best interests and to defend your parental rights.

The process of creating an interstate parenting plan brings parents together to come to an agreement that works best for their child as well as for both parents.  Parents may generate their plan as a team, and often times, parents may consult a third party for guidance, such as a mediator or other family health specialist.  A third party can be especially helpful in order to keep the child’s interests at the heart of the plan and to keep the parent’s interests in check.   In the end, the plan must show that the child’s needs are the primary concern otherwise the court may not give their consent.

Elements to a successful interstate parenting plan

While laying out your plan, there are several elements that must be kept in mind.  Once crucial element is to create a consistent custody schedule.  Giving your child a sense of stability by establishing consistent visitations and communication when away from one parent can help relieve your child’s worries when coping with their new family structure.  A second vital element to a successful interstate parenting plan surrounds traveling logistics such as divvying the costs of transportation and organizing travel plans that fit your child’s age and level of maturity.  It is also important to decide on the length of time that your child will spend between homes.  If your child will be spending long periods of time at each home, deciding on schools, churches, medical providers and ways for your child to meet new friends is key to your child’s success and mental health.  As your child grows older, your interstate parenting plan may change, so remember that your first plan may not be what you stick with forever.

Working with state laws

Another thing to keep in mind when putting the plan together is that states have different policies regarding family law and custody.  When each parent tries to abide strictly by their state’s laws, this can be problematic when the different policies do not match up exactly. Thankfully, most states have adopted common legislation to help address issues ranging from court jurisdiction to support enforcement to help reduce the potential for interstate conflicts.  Consulting a family law professional when formulating your plan is quite helpful in this situation, as they will be able to discuss ways to integrate your plan to fit each state’s custody regulations.  

In the end, you will need to show the family court that as parents, you are both working together to ensure that your child’s wellness is at the center of your interstate parenting plan.  The court wants to see that your plan encourages your child to have an optimistic outlook on their new family structure.  If you work to keep your interactions positive when preparing your plan, the process may likely go smoothly and with minimal conflict, and the end result should please the whole family.

Integrating OurFamilyWizard into your interstate parenting plan is a great way to condense your travel planning and correspondence into one central, organized place.  Parents are able to plot out their parenting time onto the Calendar, as well as schedule any special holiday plans that change your normal parenting plan.  When children are away from one parent, the Message Board will allow children and co-parents to sent messages between each other so that everyone may stay in touch.  Also, the Expense Log helps parents to track any travel expenses, and send and record reimbursements for any shared expenses. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.