A divorce means that there will be many changes in the lives of both the parents and children. Many times, the change in financial position or the need for an additional support network prompts a parent to consider relocating in order to create a better environment for the child, as well as him or herself. It is important to remember that there may be some restrictions on the ability of a parent with custody of a child to pick up and move. Georgia law changed in 2003 to impose more restrictions on a parent’s ability to relocate with a child in his or her custody.
Georgia Law and Relocations
Georgia places very strict limits on a parent’s ability to relocate with a child after a divorce. These restrictions are even more stringent if one party wants to relocate with a child while the divorce action still is pending. If a couple with children has divorced and one party wants to move out of the state, the parent seeking relocation must provide at least 30 days’ notice to the other parent about the intention to relocate. If the other parent objects to the proposed relocation, he or she may petition the court to prevent the move. Based on the law in the State of Georgia, a judge may modify a custody order to place the child with the parent who is not relocating. A person who wants the relocation will need to offer compelling evidence about the benefits that will enhance the life of the child in order to get the court to agree to the proposed move. Some of these benefits include:
- A better economic situation, which will lead to a better quality of life for the child – many proposed moves are prompted by new job opportunities, which may be necessary to maintain a certain standard of living after a divorce. If the parent seeking to move can demonstrate that the new job would not be readily available in the current location, the judge may approve the relocation;
- An improved school system or access to superior educational and extra-curricular activities;
- A healthier environment for the child – this often is cited in cases where the child has a specific medical condition that would be improved through a move to a different climate;
- The ability of the child to maintain a strong relationship with the non-relocating parent – this may be through longer visitation periods to justify extended travel and a parent’s willingness to maintain contact through telephone calls, e-mails, and social media; and
- A strong support network – many single parents rely on family to provide additional care for minor children. A relocation to be near close family who will contribute to the life of a child may sway a judge to permit relocation.
The Child May Decide Not to Go
In Georgia, a child over the age of 14 years has significant say in where he or she wants to live and may choose to go live with the parent who is not relocating. A teenager’s desire to live with one parent over the other is controlling if the parent with whom the child wants to live is okay with that change, as long as that person is considered fit to be a parent. If a child is between the ages of 11 and 14 years, then the court gives consideration to their preferences, although they are not controlling.
Charlton & Glover Help Parents Do What is Right for the Children
Whether you are a parent who wants to relocate in order to provide a better environment for your child or you are a non-custodial parent who wants to stop a proposed relocation, it is crucial to have an attorney who understands the nuances of custody matters in Georgia. If you live in the Roswell or Alpharetta area, the experienced divorce and child custody attorneys at Charlton & Glover are ready to help you. Call us at (770) 993-1005 to schedule a free initial consultation.