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Revisiting Visitation

What happens when your parenting plan does not contemplate you living in the same state as your children? Consider the following:

Parent A and Parent B get divorced in Georgia in 2018. Since Parent A had plans to relocate to New Jersey for employment before the entry of the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce, the parties executed a Parenting Plan where Parent A visits with the two minor children for half of the week-long school breaks and six consecutive weeks during the summer. Fast Forward three years; Parent A takes advantage of an opportunity to move back to Georgia so that he can be closer to his children. However, the 2018 Parenting Plan does not provide for such a situation and Parent A finds himself at the mercy of Parent B to allow him to see the children on a regular basis, rather than long-distance basis.

To many, this may sound familiar. In the same way COVID-19 has brought a wave of uncertainty to the country, it has brought a wave of opportunity in the form of remote working, or “working from home.” Currently, an estimated one in four employees are working from home. Someone can “Zoom in” to their department meeting for their Manhattan-based job from the comfort of their home office situated in their Buckhead apartment without giving it a second thought. The once long distance parent can rejoice at the fact that they can have it all: maintain their gainful employment and spend more time with their children.

Indeed, at least some long distance parents are taking advantage of this opportunity, packing up their home offices and relocating closer to their children. It is estimated that between 14 and 23 million people are planning to relocate by the end of 2021. One of the most cited reasons for the move is the ability for the employee to live closer to family.

Relocation, of course, is only half of the battle. Referring back to the above hypothetical, if Parent A wants a more traditional visitation schedule in the form of every other weekend and off-week dinners, he will need to file a petition with the court to modify visitation of the 2018 Parenting Plan. Even if the other parent agrees to voluntarily change the schedule, that informal agreement only holds until that parent changes her mind. Then you need a court order to make it real, to make it enforceable, to guarantee time with your children.

Enter The Manely Firm, P.C. We can help with that.

Kourtney Bernard-Rance

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