Suppose your ex tells you they are moving to another state for a job opportunity. What can you do? If you don’t have primary custody, you may have many questions. Can my ex move my children out of Georgia? When will you see your children if they live hours away?
When this happens, it is important to know that you have a right to parent your children. Georgia protects this right and has clear procedures and rules regarding whether your spouse can move with your children.
Unfortunately, without an Atlanta family law attorney on your side, you might not get the outcome you desire. To learn more about your legal rights, call our law firm immediately.
What Are Georgia’s Child Custody Relocation Laws?
First, the custodial parent must contact the noncustodial parent—in writing—regarding the proposed move. They must give this notice at least 30 days before the proposed move date. If the noncustodial parent agrees to the move, they can file an agreement, and the courts will likely approve the modification quickly.
If the parents cannot agree on the move, the custodial parent must file for a custody modification hearing. The judge will evaluate all aspects of the proposed move and issue a ruling.
As with everything that has to do with children in Georgia courts, the standard is the child’s best interests. This means if the judge believes the move is in the child’s best interests, they will likely approve it.
The parent who wishes to move cannot just say they want to move for a better job with higher pay. The parent would have to show that the income is significantly higher and would benefit the children in specific ways. This might include better education, nicer housing, and more opportunities. Perhaps family members live in the proposed city who have committed to providing childcare. This might also be a compelling reason for the judge to approve the move.
If the court does decide to grant the relocation, they may also modify child support to assist the noncustodial parent with travel costs. A child support modification is likely if a parent will now have to travel a significant distance to see the children.
Essentially, when deciding to grant a relocation, the court will consider:
- Each parent’s true motivation for the move—or for stopping the move
- Whether the move will potentially harm the relationship between the noncustodial parent and the child
- Whether the parents have addressed the potential move in their existing parenting plan
- What impact the move would have on the child or children’s relationships with their friends and the effect the move would have on their education
- The child’s current emotional ties to each parent
- Whether the children’s standard of living would actually increase as a result of the move
- The level of involvement each parent has with the child’s education, social life, and extracurricular activities
- What opportunities the move might offer the children
- The child’s emotional ties to siblings, half-siblings, or step-siblings that currently reside with either parent
- Whether the parents now have an amicable relationship
Before 2003, it was the presumption that the custodial parent would keep that custody arrangement unless the noncustodial parent could prove that the new location would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.
As of 2003, however, the Georgia Supreme Court found that without giving the benefit of the doubt to the custodial parent, the judge must decide whether a move is genuinely in the child’s best interests.
Whether you are the custodial parent who wants to move or the noncustodial parent who does not wish the custodial parent to move, it is important to consult an Atlanta family lawyer as quickly as possible.
Contact Our Atlanta Child Custody Lawyers
At Hobson & Hobson, P.C., our Atlanta child custody attorneys know that relocation is often necessary to rebuild lives and futures. Better jobs, marriages, and opportunities often exist outside a parent’s current city. However, courts must weigh the pros and cons of such a move and protect the child’s best interests.
Our Atlanta child custody attorneys know how to build a case to help advocate for your right to parent your children. Whether you’re seeking to move or trying to keep your children in town, we can help.
Call us today at (770) 284-6153 or fill out our confidential contact form. We can set up a consultation so that you can review all your legal options.