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What Are Georgia’s Child Custody Relocation Laws? If You Get Divorced In Georgia Can You Move To A Different State With Your Kids?

Georgia custody relocation situations are among the most complex and contentious cases in family law. Our attorneys are often asked the following questions:

“If I want to move to another state with the children, can my spouse or ex stop me?”

“If my ex tries to relocate outside of Georgia with the children, can I stop them?”

“Will I get custody if my ex tries to move with the kids”?

“How is custody impacted by relocation?”

“Am I stuck in Georgia with the kids”?

“Should I give notice of my intent to relocate?”

“Is relocation possible for a custodial parent in Georgia?”

“Can I have a sample Georgia out of state parenting plan?”

“What are the Georgia custody and relocation laws?”

Perhaps of the utmost importance, both the moving parent and the non-relocating parent should immediately consult with a family law attorney regarding the timing of any potential move, the timing of giving proper notice of a relocation, and whether or not a modification of custody or modification of visitation is the appropriate course of action. These are very complex and intricate issues with many moving parts, and the sooner you consult with a family law attorney, the better.

Interestingly, not very long ago, Georgia Courts presumed that a relocation by the custodial parent was in the children’s best interests. However, that is no longer the case. Instead, any determination is made on a case by case basis. When the custodial parent relocates (or gives notice of intent to relocate) and the non-custodial parent in turn files a modification of custody, there is no presumption that the relocating parent will lose custody nor is there a presumption in favor of the relocating parent. See the landmark Georgia custody relocation case of Bodne v. Bodne, 277 Ga. 445 (2003) and also Weickert v. Weickert, 268 Ga. App 624 (2004). As with all Georgia custody modification cases, there must be a finding of a new material change in the circumstance affecting the child’s best interests before a modification based on relocation may be made.

The paramount issue in relocation disputes should be whether the relocation is or is not in the best interests of the child. Georgia Courts have found that in this complex equation, the following factors are to be considered:

  • a child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent;
  • the custodial parent’s reason for relocating;
  • his or her ties to local schools and friends;
  • the child’s or children’s age;
  • the stress and instability of relocation and the corresponding benefits of consistency and stability for the child or children;
  • the interests of the entire binuclear family;
  • the dynamics of the custodial parent’s new family unit;
  • the recommendations of a Guardian ad Litem; and
  • any other relevant factors may be taken into consideration by the Court.
  • Further, the Court will consider whether or not any child over the age of 14 has signed an election affidavit to move with the relocating parent or prefers to stay with the non-relocating parent.

Also, it is always a good idea to be familiar with Georgia’s child custody statute as the factors the judges in Georgia are supposed to consider are located there and contain a roadmap for what is in a child’s best interests. The Georgia child custody statute is O.C.G.A. 19-9-3 and located on our website here.

If you need help or advice with a child custody relocation matter, please don’t hesitate to call us.