Share

Smith Welch Webb & White Blog

Friday, June 26, 2015

How Moving May Affect Your Child Custody Agreement

Both the housing and job markets are picking up this summer. Job growth, low interest rates and rising rental costs are contributing to this trend nationwide, and here in Henry County south of Atlanta. No matter what your reason, there are many things to consider when planning a move. Especially for divorced parents, who need to consider how relocation may affect their child custody agreement and the best interest of their child.

The Type of Custody Agreement
Parental rights for both mothers and fathers are treated equally under Georgia law, and gone are the days when custody was almost automatically awarded to the mother. If one parent is awarded custody and the other parent has visitation rights, it’s much easier for either parent to relocate. But it gets more complicated when parents share custody through a joint agreement, which is the most common arrangement today.

The Best Interest of the Child
The common thread throughout all custody agreements is deeming the circumstances that will provide “the best interest and welfare of the child.” The custodial parent needs to show that it’s in the child’s best interest for that parent to have primary physical custody, even with moving to a different area.

Under current Georgia law, a parent can move (within the U.S.), but the move may warrant a “change of circumstances” that would allow the other parent to file an action for modification of custody or visitation. Unless there is a provision in the existing custody order that states otherwise, the parent who is moving must give the other parent 30 days advance notice. This 30 day time period gives the parent who is not moving time to file an action for modification.

How Far You Move May Affect How Much Will Change
The distance of the move may affect the degree of change. A local move with both parents remaining within easy driving distance is not as likely to affect custody agreements as much as a cross-country move that clearly affects current visitation rights. However, even local moves may result in a change in school districts and other circumstances that may warrant a modification in your current agreement.

Ideally, Parents Reach Agreement on Relocation
Although it's not always feasible, ideally the parents should try to reach an agreement regarding changes in the child custody agreement before turning to the court. When parents agree to specific changes to the current agreement, a family law attorney can simply file an order with both parents' signatures giving their consent, and submit it to the judge for approval. In most cases, it's likely that the judge the will approve the revised agreement, unless there are unique circumstances and the court doesn't believe the new agreement to be in the child's best interest. 

Age of the Child
Parents considering relocation also need to consider how their child’s age may affect the living situation. Under Georgia law, children 14 years or older have the right to choose the parent with whom he or she wants to live. The child's election “shall be presumptive unless the parent so selected is determined not to be in the best interests of the child," which means the court is empowered to deny the child’s request if the judge believes it is not in his or her best interest. And the child’s request to live with one parent does not mean the other parent is not entitled to visitation.

Petitioning the Court for Change
If the parents cannot come to an agreement, the parent planning the move can file a petition to modify custody and/or visitation. For best results, speak with an experienced local family law attorney who can advise on your specific situation and provide insight into how your jurisdiction usually handles these types of cases. The laws surrounding changes to child custody orders in Georgia can be complicated, but your attorney can help build a case designed to support the best interest of your child.

For more information on child custody or other family law issues, contact Elizabeth Pool here or call (770) 775-3188 to schedule an appointment. Smith, Welch, Webb and White is recognized as a premier law firm throughout the state of Georgia. Our team of experts routinely handles a wide range of legal matters, and will provide outstanding service for you, your family or your business.

 

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


Archived Posts

2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
2014
November
October
September
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2013
2011


Smith Welch Webb & White serve clients throughout the south metro Atlanta area including but not limited to McDonough, Stockbridge, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Henry County, Peach County, Jonesboro, Spalding County, Butts County, and Lamar County.



© 2019 Smith Welch Webb & White | Disclaimer
280 Country Club Drive, Suite 300, Stockbridge, GA 30281
| Phone: 855-505-7999

Attorneys | Practice Areas | FAQs | Locations | Jobs | News & Blogs

Law Firm Website Design by
Amicus Creative


Make a Payment