Family Law and Unilateral Relocation
A unilateral relocation is when one parent moves the child’s residence without the other parent’s permission.
Child custody matters are among the most contentious dealt with in the Gwinnett County courts, and for good reason. The ability to see your child on a regular basis and to take part in the goings-on in their lives plays a major role in forming a close and loving relationship. Parenting plans created as part of your child custody proceedings detail these arrangements and help to protect your parental rights. When one of the parents moves, it is referred to as a unilateral relocation.
Unilateral Relocations in Child Custody Proceedings
When parents divorce or are unmarried and no longer living together, child custody arrangements help to determine the amount of time they get to spend with their children. Under the Georgia Code, the court generally considers it in the children’s best interests to have both parents remain active and involved in their lives. In approving child custody arrangements and issuing a final order, the judge may consider any relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
- Each parent’s current and prior relationship with the children;
- Their ability to meet the children’s needs;
- Any special needs the children may have;
- The distance between the parent’s homes;
- Their ability to cooperate with one another in making child custody arrangements work.
Once a formal child custody order is in place, any changes to it must be made through the court. This includes when one of the parents decides to move, either for a job or for personal reasons. Making a unilateral relocation without consulting the other could jeopardize your rights to custody.
How a Move May Impact Your Rights in Georgia Parenting Plans
Parenting plans in Georgia are negotiated between the couple involved and their attorneys. This legal document dictates how the child’s time is divided between both parents during the week and the rights to visitation on weekends, holidays, school breaks, and other special occasions. It may also include provisions discussing unilateral relocations and procedures to follow in the event a move is required. Simply making a move without consulting the other parent could endanger your parental rights and may even result in criminal charges.
If a move is required, your family law attorney can request a child custody modification. This allows the parenting plan to be renegotiated to accommodate the move:
- If you are the parent relocating, be prepared to offer some concessions. These may include major modifications to custody or simply allowing the other parent to spend more time with the child over holidays and school breaks.
- If the other parent is the one moving, you have the right to assert the reasons why you feel the move is not in the child’s best interests.
Reach Out to Our Gwinnett County Family Law Attorneys
At Zimmerman & Associates, we help to protect your rights as a parent in child custody proceedings. To request a consultation, contact our Norcross family law attorneys today.