The prevalence of oil field work in Acadiana is a beacon for the local economy. The workers stand to make a good amount of money for their efforts. This can place a huge burden on the family members who are left at home. These workers face the risk of divorce, which is difficult since they are only trying to support their family members.
When a marriage fails, there is a good chance that there will be children who are stuck in the middle. This poses a challenge to the oil field workers who still want to be a part of their child's life but need to continue to earn a living. In most of these cases, creative child custody arrangements are necessary.
Traditional schedules won't work
Because of the nature and schedule of life on an oil rig, you can't rely on traditional child custody schedules like the every other weekend and two weeks in the summer arrangement or the two weeks with each parent on a rotating basis option. Instead, the child's time with the rig worker parent is going to have to be based on when that person is home.
Coming up with the schedule doesn't have to be difficult, but it will require communication. The rig worker will need to tell the other parent the schedule for time off and on as soon as it is known. From there, agreements about when the child will be where can be made. These can be included in the child custody agreement so that there is a legal backing for the fluid schedule.
Workers don't have to give up custody
It is easy to assume that because rig workers will be away a lot that they have to give up custody. This isn't the case as long as there are plans for when the worker is offshore. The child might go to the other parent during these stints or another family member might care for them. Often, these situations involve joint custody or co-parenting so that both parents are an active part of the child's life.
Visitation is vital
When rig workers are away from the child, they still need to keep in touch. Most rigs now have internet access, which enables the parent to have virtual visits with the child. Video chatting or email messages are good options when there is online access. Another alternative is having a family member spend time with the children on your behalf.