Child Custody Modification in Georgia
During a separation and after a divorce or child custody case, it’s often not a surprise that the custodial parent chooses to move away from the area where he or she once shared a home with the noncustodial parent. Most people presume that a custodial parent is allowed to relocate with the child or children. In 2003, the Georgia case Bodne v. Bodne ruled that trial courts will no longer presume that the relocating custodial parent automatically has a right to retain custody of the minor child. The Georgia Supreme Court essentially decided that the trial court must make custodial determinations based on the best interests of the child standard.
If you are a custodial parent and you want to relocate, you must give notice of the move to the noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent may file a petition for modification of child custody. Whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent, it is important to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney. In some relocation cases, the parties may agree to modify the existing parenting plan. However, in more contested cases, a judge may decide to change who has primary custody of the child or children.
The judge will consider what is in the best interests of the child and the reason for the custodial parent’s move when making a decision on who should have primary custody.
Parents often wonder if the child’s preference of where he or she wants to live is taken into consideration. The answer is yes and no. Georgia Family Law provides that at the age of 14, the child has a right to choose the parent with which he or she wants to live. The judge does not have to agree with the child, but the child’s preference may be a determining factor in the judge’s final decision regarding custody.
If you are a custodial or noncustodial parent who is faced with a relocation/modification of a child custody case, you need to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Stephanie D. Dixon at S. Dixon Law Offices, LLC may be able to help you with your case.
After child custody has been initially determined, a court may modify the initial custody order upon a showing that new and material conditions exist which substantially affect the interests and welfare of the child since the rendering of the initial custody decision.
Child Custody Modification is not always a negative situation, sometimes the parents have overcome their initial emotional phase and are now modifying to better manage their situation, or because one parent is moving away due to getting re-married or other circumstances. The first goal is always to protect the welfare of the children.
In order for a court to grant a parent’s application for a change in child custody, there must be a showing that a change in condition or circumstance that substantially affects the welfare of the child involved has occurred. To change a prior child custody award, a court must find that either the original custodian is no longer able or suited to retain custody or that the conditions surrounding the child have changed to the extent that the child’s welfare is affected and the welfare of the child requires a modification of the original award.
After evidence has been submitted that determines that the change in custody is justified, the court may change custody by awarding either parent sole custody or by awarding the parents joint custody, joint legal custody or joint physical custody.
A court may also modify visitation rights in the context of a modification proceeding if the court deems that such a change is necessary. The presiding court may make such a modification to visitation rights on its own motion, without either party making a showing or application for such a modification. Contact us today to book your appointment or to ask us questions about Child Custody Modification.
For Appointments Our Office Hours Are:
Monday – Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.