Crafting Effective Custody Agreements: Transportation, Overnight Care, Travel, and Relocation Sample Provisions

By | January 30, 2024
Drafting Custody Agreements

“Custody and visitation are the two issues parents should focus on resolving outside of court” is a refrain most seasoned judges and family law attorneys endorse, but navigating the drafting of custody arrangements in a divorce can be challenging.  It’s not just about deciding who the child lives with; it’s also about the day-to-day specifics of items like transportation, overnight stays and guests, travel, and potential relocation.  fating These elements need to be carefully considered and clearly outlined in custody agreements.  The post below provides some sample language that might be helpful in that regard.

For a more in-depth look at custody and visitation, please check out my more detailed post on the subject:  A Comprehensive Guide to Custody and Visitation.

Transportation Arrangements in Custody Agreements

Transportation is a practical yet crucial aspect of custody arrangements.  It’s important for each parent to be clear about his or her responsibilities.  Consider stating who is responsible for transporting the child to and from visitation, school, extracurricular activities, and other events.  As you might expect, it’s common for the parent who has the child to be responsible for ensuring the child gets to school and agreed upon activities.  Sometimes, however, transportation responsibilities for certain activities may fall on one parent alone.  Clarity in transportation responsibilities helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures a smoother experience for the child.

Sample language for transportation provisions could be something like the following:

Transportation.  Each parent shall be responsible for “picking up” the child at the commencement of his or her visitation time with the child, provided, however, in the event that either party moves a distance which would otherwise require driving of more than 30 minutes of the other parent, the parties shall agree upon a “transfer location” which is 30 minutes from the non-moving party’s location, and the “moving party” shall assume responsibility for the remainder of the driving.  It is agreed, however, that this provision shall not apply if either parent moves a substantial distance from the Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, as such move would create a “change of circumstances” to be addressed by the parents at that time. 

Overnight Care Considerations

Overnight care and guests, especially when younger children are involved, requires detailed planning. This includes not only setting up appropriate living arrangements, but also ensuring a consistent routine, addressing any special needs the child may have, rights of first refusal. It’s important to outline these details in the custody agreement to provide stability and comfort for the child.  To avoid too much change, too soon for a young child, many judges frown on immediately introducing new romantic partners early on in new relationships.

Sample language relating to overnight care could include something like the following:

Overnight Care.  In the event that either party will require overnight care for the children while in his or her physical custody, then the other parent shall be offered the right of first refusal to provide custodial care for the children no earlier than 48 hours in advance or as soon as reasonably practicable if thereafter.  After a party is offered the right to provide care in writing (e-mail or text message is sufficient) he or she shall have four hours to either accept or reject, at which point the offering parent may make whatever plans for care he or she chooses.

Overnight Guests.  Neither party shall entertain overnight guests of the opposite sex, to whom he or she is unrelated by blood or marriage, when the children are in his or her physical custody.

Child Custody and Visitation

Travel and Vacations in Custody Agreements

Most custody agreements include provisions for travel, particularly during the summer months.  Travel plans, including vacations and trips, need to be discussed and choreographed.  This includes notice periods, destinations, and the length of trips.  Though it may sound morbid, I often tell parents that the other parent “needs to know where to look for the bodies if you don’t return.”  Specifying these in the agreement helps allay both parents’ concerns and ensures both have quality time with the child.

Sample language relating to travel might include the following:

Travel.  If either party intends to travel with the children outside of a 150- mile radius of that parent’s residence, that parent shall give the other parent at least 36-hours advance notice of such travel.  This requirement shall be suspended in the event of an emergency, in which case notification shall occur as soon as reasonably possible.  Such notice shall include a location and telephone number at which the parent and the children may be reached during such travel.  This notice provision does not require the parties’ mutual consent as a condition to such travel.

Handling Relocation in Custody Agreements

Relocation can be a complex issue in custody agreements and litigation.  It often requires revisiting and modifying existing arrangements; it’s is likely that no language in custody agreements can fully address all issues associated with relocation.  Factors to consider include the distance of the move, its impact on the child’s life, the reasons for the relocation, each parent’s current role with the child, and maintaining a relationship with the non-relocating parent.  Legal provisions need to be clear to avoid future disputes and set expectations.

Again, while the sample language below does not address all of the issues that are likely to arise in relocation cases, it may prove to be a helpful start.

Relocation.  The parties agree that considering personal ties and contacts the children have developed in the community in which the children currently reside, it is in the children’s best interests to remain within the same geographic community.  Accordingly, the parties agree that neither of them shall move the residence of the children outside a radius of 25 miles from the children’s present residence without the written consent of the other.  In the event the primary physical custodian of the children, or joint physical custodian of the children, desires to move the children’s residence outside said radius, and the other parent does not consent thereto, the parent wishing to move outside the prescribed radius shall make application to a court of competent jurisdiction for permission to move based upon the bona fide reasons therefore, and shall only move if such permission is granted by the Court based upon prevailing statutory and case law in the jurisdiction where the issue is litigated.

Effective custody agreements should clearly address transportation, overnight care, travel, and relocation to minimize conflicts and ensure the child’s wellbeing.  If you’ve got questions about drafting a custody and visitation agreement, feel free to drop me a line. Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran Moher Weis P.C. – – 10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520 Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020.



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