You’ve just gotten the job offer of a lifetime, but it means you’ll be leaving Georgia and moving to Texas. What in the world are you going to do about your kids and the court-ordered visitation schedule? Out of state visitation can be arranged if done properly.
This situation, with one parent who lives in a different state, happens more often than you think. It’s important to slow down and think things through because any change in your custody arrangement (including visitation) has to be approved by the court in advance.
Before you move out of state, know that it’s easier if a) you are not the primary custodian of the children, and b) you get along well with your ex. If you don’t have custody of the children, you should talk with your ex about the reasons surrounding your move, how it will affect the children, and what changes are going to need to be made to the visitation arrangement.
Obviously, that conversation will go a lot smoother if you guys get along and are willing to cooperate in the best interests of the children. If you are able to cooperate and reach an agreement, then your attorney can file a modification and prepare your settlement agreement documents. Otherwise, you will need to talk with your attorney about presenting your desired parenting schedule to a Judge.
If you are the primary custodian of the children, this gets a little more tricky. In this case, the children would be moving with you so the other parent really needs to be on board. You should promptly file a modification of visitation and show the court that 1) the move is necessary, 2) you should still be entitled to custody even though you are moving, 3) that you are concerned with how your move will affect the children and that’s why you were prompt in filing, and 4) the children’s best interest will be protected in spite of the move.
A long-distance visitation plan needs to take into account several factors, including:
There are a variety of ways to make a visitation schedule work when one parent is out of state. For example, the child can be with one parent during the school year and spend the summer with the other parent. Extended weekends, holidays, and school breaks can be used to visit out of state. The custodial parent can visit the other parent while on vacation and leave the children with the non-custodial parent. Creativity is key in coming up with a suitable arrangement.
The key to coming up with an arrangement is always to think about what is in the best interest of the child. First and foremost should be a desire for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.
It will be easier to work out a schedule if the children are young. Teenagers often keep a busy schedule, between work, school, extracurriculars, and jobs. In that case, having an alternative means of communication, such as Skype, text, or regular phone calls can be a great asset towards staying involved.
If you’re thinking of moving out of state, or your children are getting ready to move, you need to talk to a caring, experienced attorney, such as Edidiong Aaron at Family Matters Law Group. Any change to an existing court order will have to be approved by the court, so an attorney can definitely help to craft an arrangement that is beneficial to all parties and meets the needs of the children.
We handle cases across the metro Atlanta area, particularly in Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties. Setting up a consultation is easy with our convenient online contact form. Don’t let an impending move stress you out! Contact us today -- we’re ready to hear your story!