Child Custody Laws FAQ: Relocating as the Custodial Parent
It is a big decision to relocate with children after a divorce. Relocation affects everyone involved, especially the non-custodial parent. A move away usually interferes with visitation rights and can sometimes hinder the relationship between the children and the non-moving parent. Understandably, the courts take relocation with children seriously.
In this article, we are answering frequently asked questions parents have about Georgia’s child custody relocation laws.
What is Relocation?
Georgia law defines relocation as a change in residence that would greatly hinder the non-custodial parent’s rights to exercise custodial time with the children. A move within the same neighborhood, town, or even county is usually not considered a relocation. However, a move across the state or out of state will most likely be defined as a relocation.
How is Relocation Determined?
Relocation is not based on the distance between the original residence and the new one. It is based on the ability of the non-custodial parent to exercise their right to visitation without hindrance.
Who Determines if the Custodial Parent Can Relocate?
Unless the non-custodial parent agrees, Georgia’s child custody relocation laws require a judge to make the ultimate decision about the move. This ensures the move is regarded in the children’s best interest and does not negatively interfere with the non-custodial parent’s rights to visitation.
Does the Custodial Parent Have to Inform the Other Parent of the Move?
The first step to successfully and legally relocating your family as the custodial parent is to submit a written notice to the other parent at least 30 days before the moving date. The time period for the notice may vary depending on the terms of your existing custody order. Because the other parent can choose not to consent to the move, it is strongly suggested to submit the request earlier than a month before the move in the event that a court must get involved to address the issue.
What Happens if the Non-Custodial Parent Consents?
If the other parent consents to the move, then the parents should obtain a modified parenting plan order so that the judge can modify the original child custody agreement. The new arrangement is approved by the court and is enforceable in the event of a subsequent dispute.
What if the Non-Custodial Parent Does Not Consent?
If the non-custodial parent does not consent to relocation, the custodial parent can petition the court for a hearing to argue their case as to why the move is in the children’s best interest. Depending on the quality of the evidence, the judge can rule in favor of the move or deny it. This may mean that the custodial parent could move, but the children would remain in the state with the non-custodial parent; additionally, the custody arrangement could completely change.
Does the Child Have a Say in the Move?
Georgia law allows children 14 years old or older to elect to live with either parent, such as to remain “at home” with the non-custodial parent or move with the custodial parent. Children under 14 years of age do not have that automatic option, but a relocation does act as a change of circumstance that would necessitate a holistic review of the existing parenting time arrangement. The non-custodial parent could be awarded primary custody of the children.
Are you a custodial parent planning to relocate or a non-custodial parent wanting to keep your children close? Let Rubin Family Law fight for your family.
Our team comprehensively understands Georgia’s child custody laws, and we will help you achieve successful outcomes. Tell us about your case, and let our child custody attorneys fight for you. Schedule a consultation with us today: 770-670-7200