Americans are more transitory than ever, with over 10 percent of our population moving each year. Moving out of state for a new job or opportunity can be exciting, but for parents with child custody agreements, doing so can result in complications. Many Georgia parents who hope to relocate outside of Georgia wonder what they must do to move out of state with their children after a divorce.
Are you a divorced parent who wants to move with your children outside of Georgia? If so, you will need to obtain permission from a Georgia court and notify your child’s co-parents. You’ll need to petition the court to modify your custody agreement. Obtaining permission to relocate outside of Georgia with your children can be difficult for parents. Many parents are understandably excited about a new opportunity but are concerned about their custody agreement. If you’re considering a move, it is beneficial to speak with an experienced family law attorney. At Carter/Pilgrim, we’ve helped many parents favorably resolve child custody issues, and we are here to help you. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.
Reaching a Child Custody Agreement with the Co-Parent About Moving
Typically, parents who wish to move with their children must modify their child custody agreements with the court’s permission. This rule applies when parents have full custody or joint custody. If you’re considering moving out of state, and you’d like to take your children with you, your first option is to come to an understanding with your co-parent. Talking to your children’s co-parent and reaching a voluntary agreement is the easiest way to obtain permission to move out of state with your children.
If you have an amicable relationship with the co-parent of your children, you may be able to reach an agreement. After you agree, you can petition the court to modify your child custody agreement to reflect these changes. Without a Georgia court approving your modified child custody plan, the plan is not legally binding, and your previous child custody plan will remain in place.
Providing the Co-Parent With Written Notification
Regardless of whether you’re able to reach an agreement, custodial parents who want to relocate out of state must provide their child’s co-parent with written notice. Under Georgia law, parents must provide written notice to non-custodial parents and any family members with legally recognized visitation rights. After a parent moves out of town, he or she must notify the co-parent of their new address within 30 days of the move. What happens when noncustodial parents contest your relocation request? Noncustodial parents have a right to file a court petition to stop the parent from moving out of state. While courts cannot refuse to allow someone to move, they can modify the child custody agreement, preventing the children from moving with the parent.
Seeking a Court Order
In many cases, parents cannot reach an agreement regarding the potential move out of state. In this case, a Georgia family court needs to decide whether to permit the out-of-state move with the children, which can be frustrating for parents who are looking forward to moving out-of-state. However, regardless of how much one parent would like to move, courts will look to the children’s best interests. Judges do not have a presumption in favor of a father or mother under Georgia law, and both parents have equal status before the law. Family court judges must consider multiple factors when determining whether or not to modify the child custody agreement, such as:
- The emotional ties between the child and parent
- The disposition and capacity of each parent to give the child affection and guidance
- The capacity of each parent to continue rearing and educating their child
- The emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings
- Each parent’s familiarity and knowledge of the child’s needs
- The home environment of each parent related to the child’s nurturance and safety
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- Each parent’s involvement in the child’s extracurricular and social activities
Is the Move in The Best Interest of the Child?
Importantly, judges must also consider each family unit’s stability, including the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within his or her community when deciding whether to modify a child custody agreement to allow him or her to move with the children. Judges will consider the potential new location and whether moving will upend the children’s lives to an excessive degree.
Will the child have a support system in the new location? Will his or her education or extracurricular activities be negatively or positively affected by the move? Does the child have special needs that could make a move exceedingly difficult? All of these are factors that a Georgia family court judge will consider when deciding on the petition to modify the child custody agreement.
Judges will also consider the parent’s history of fulfilling parenting duties and each parent’s ability to facilitate a close relationship with the child. Suppose a parent who does not have a close relationship with the child wants to move out-of-state with the child. In that case, the judge may refuse to modify the custody agreement or may only allow the out-of-state parent to have custody of the children one weekend per month. Additionally, judges will consider any recommendations by court-appointed custody evaluators or guardian ad litem representatives.
Contact Our Atlanta Child Custody and Moving Attorney Today
If you or your co-parent are considering moving out-of-state with your children, you will benefit from speaking to an experienced family law attorney. At Carter/Pilgrim, we have a proven track record of successfully advocating for our clients in various child custody matters. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.