Parenting Time: Who Pays Additional Transportation Costs?

Indiana Divorce LawyerQuestion:

I have to move farther away from my children and I want to know what effects it will have on my parenting time.

My child custody periods are limited to extended breaks when the kids are out of school, and I meet my ex-wife halfway for the custody exchange.

My new job is forcing me to move even farther away from my children where it is necessary to have them fly on a plane to visit. I am worried I will not be able to afford roundtrip airfare several times a year for all my kids, thus resulting in me potentially not being able to see my children.

How are transportation cost responsibilities divided when one party has to move?

Do you think the court will order me to pay for the roundtrip tickets because my ex claims she cannot afford them?

Answer:

I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce on these matters. However, I can give you general parenting time information based on Indiana’s child custody laws where I am licensed to practice.

Parenting time guidelines are designed to assist parents and courts in the development of plans for parenting time. The guidelines address parenting time when distance is a major factor, such as your case.

Where there is a significant geographical distance between the parents, scheduling parenting time is fact sensitive and requires consideration of many factors which include: employment schedules, the costs and time of travel, the financial situation of each parent, the frequency of the parenting time and others.

Unless otherwise agreed between the parents, the non-custodial parent shall provide transportation for the child at the start of the scheduled parenting time and the custodial parent shall provide transportation for the child at the end of the scheduled parenting time.

As you will be moving to a farther location where air travel will be needed, you are rightly concerned about the cost of air travel and what affect it will have on your parenting time.

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Where I practice, the guidelines provide that where the distance between the parents’ residences is such that extended driving time is necessary, the parents should agree on a location for the exchange of the child, which is what you’ve been doing thus far.

The cost of transportation should be shared based on consideration of various factors, including the distance involved, the financial resources of the parents, the reason why the distances exist, and the family situation of each parent at that time.

Without knowing the circumstances surrounding these factors for you and your ex-wife, I cannot speak to how the court will consider these factors. I can say that the court will evaluate these factors when determining how you and your ex-wife shall share the expense of air travel.

If she cannot afford the tickets, then she’ll likely have to answer to questions regarding her finances and employment status. You will likely have to answer why you are moving, your finances, and your ability to pay for the tickets as well.

If you already know where you will be moving, you may consider discussing transportation responsibilities and costs with your ex-wife right now to see if an agreement can be reached. If you cannot agree, then you will still have time to address this issue in court prior to you leaving.

Please understand that my opinions are based upon the limited facts that you provided to me. For financial advice on divorce, I urge you to contact a divorce lawyer.

To set up an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell mens divorce attorney, including Indiana Divorce Lawyer Rachael S. Cunningham, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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2 comments on “Parenting Time: Who Pays Additional Transportation Costs?

    The Back and Forth
    My son was born here in Arizona, and 2 years ago his dad decided to move to Texas. Before he would pay all travel expense but now since we are going to court hes wanting them split. I am opposed to this because he hasnt paid me any child support in almost a year and also I support out son fully, dont really have the funds to commit to that especially around holidays, not sure how a judement would be made about my situation.

    My ex-husband lives in Texas and I live in Arizona. He can basically see my son anytime he wants as it is joint custody with me as a custodial parent, but it would be unreasonable to both of us to fly our kid evey weekend to his dad’s. We use to drive half way and meet in El Paso to exchange our son. Once he turned 6, we started flying him unaccompanied minor (UM). It may or may not save us money, but it definately saves us the driving time and we split the cost. When my ex sends the boy back he usually sends his half of the money back. If he misses that flight, he’s responsible for paying the difference. In 2 years my ex is moving from Texas to Montana, which is further from Phoenix, and that will complicate things because getting a non-stop flight from Phoenix to western Montana is slim pickin’s and will be more expensive. I’m not quite sure how that will work out then. Since our divorce, I have never asked for him to pay for anything additional nor have child support raised with his rank pay and we have been divorced for 7 years and costs have gone up dramatically, and our kid is going to need braces for his teeth. My ex only sees our son twice a year; at X-mas and I send him to his dad’s for the whole summer. To be honest, I’d probably still pay half of the travel costs to Montana if he promised to take his son to see his grandparents every time as my ex’s relationship with his parents aren’t great.

    Unfortunately, in my opinion, if you move far enough away, you should have to pay the transportation difference had you not moved that distance. So whatever that additional distance would cost, but certainly not the whole ticket. If you are joint, I would definately consider whether or not you can start claiming the kids on your taxes every other year, if you’re not already. Maybe that will help offset the costs a little. If you move far enough to fly, you’ll likely have to decrease how often you visit. My son’s dad quickly went from 4 times to twice a year, but then he also stopped calling for months at a time. I hope it all works out, or worked out for you.

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