Perhaps you share custody with your spouse, but you received an offer for a much better job outside of Georgia. Maybe your ex has parenting time every other weekend, but you want to move a few hours away so you have family support nearby.
Whatever the reason for your move, review Georgia’s laws about relocating with a child custody order in place.
Providing proper legal notice
Before relocating with a minor child, the custodial parent must provide official legal notice to anyone who has visitation within 30 days of the proposed move. The other parent then has the opportunity to contest the move, which will result in a court hearing. Otherwise, the judge will grant permission.
Understanding the best interest standard
When a parent wants to contest a move, he or she can request a change in custody to prevent relocation. As with the initial custody agreement, the judge will consider factors that support the child’s best interests, including but not limited to:
- The physical and mental health of the child and each parent
- The support system in place for each parent
- The child’s current adjustment to and stability in his or her environment
- The ability of each parent to provide medical care, clothing, food and safe shelter
- The knowledge and involvement each parent has of the child’s needs, schooling and activities
- The ability of each parent to provide a loving environment, sound education and reasonable guidance
- The child’s relationship with other siblings and family members
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Whether either parent has a history of criminal activity, substance abuse, physical abuse, neglect or violence
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s wishes if he or she is at least 14 years old
Using these factors, the judge will decide whether or not to modify custody. He or she may also consider the testimony of a guardian ad item. Georgia no longer gives preference to the existing custodial parent in this scenario.