Deciding to move to a new city or state can be an exciting time, full of new opportunities. You might be moving to take a new job, be closer to family, or just to try something new. However, if you are the custodial parent of children, relocating with your kids in mind can become a legally complex matter.
When looking to move away from your child’s other parent for any reason, it may be essential to consult with an Atlanta relocation lawyer. By working with a well-versed attorney, you could better understand this delicate process and discuss the best way to try to obtain a court’s approval for a move.
In Georgia, a custodial parent cannot simply decide to relocate whenever they want. Instead, the parent must first give initial notice to the non-custodial parent within a minimum of thirty days before moving.
Pursuant to Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 19-9-3, this notice must be in writing and must contain the custodial parent’s new address. However, the non-custodial parent could either agree to the relocation or, instead, may file an objection through the court to seek a modification of custody.
If a request is successful, both parents can then agree on how to modify their custody arrangement and parenting plan to accommodate the move. For example, the non-custodial parent might have to change their regular visitation into longer stretches of time while the child is on break from school.
If the non-custodial parent objects to the move, they can ask the court to modify their parenting plan and change the custody agreement. A judge will then review the circumstances of the case and the reasons for the relocation before deciding whether to grant the petition or to revise the custody agreement and allow the children to stay with the non-custodial parent. Because of the stakes of this process, anyone seeking to relocate might benefit from the counsel of a seasoned Atlanta attorney.
While a person may have numerous motivations for moving, not all of these necessitate that the children should also move. If a judge does not consider a custodial parent’s reasons for relocating to be valid or in the best interests of the children, the judge may deny their request for the relocation of the children with the custodial parent.
When considering a parent’s request to move with their children, the court will question the parent’s motivation. Of course, a compelling reason—such as a better job opportunity—will usually have a better chance of succeeding than a move done solely out of a spite, or to simply prevent the other parent from interacting with their children.
When a custodial parent wants to move and take the children with them, they must show that the benefits to the children outweigh the harm done to the non-custodial parent. While there is no dispute that long distances can affect the non-custodial parent’s relationship with their children, the court might still allow the relocation if it does not harm the children.
During the process of weighing a child’s best interests with the rights of the non-custodial parent, the court will examine the children’s ties to the area, their relationships with friends and family in both locations, how involved the children are in extracurriculars or other community-based activities, whether the children want to relocate with their custodial parent and other factors.
The court will balance the children’s interests with the non-custodial parent’s right to visitation. Amongst other factors, a judge will look at:
In some cases, the judge may decide to switch the custody agreement and allow the children to stay with the non-custodial parent. Consequently, the non-custodial parent would then become the custodial parent. An Atlanta relocation lawyer could further explain these nuances to anyone in the process of contemplating a move.
Unfortunately, wishing to relocate with your children can be a contentious and difficult process. Therefore, if you are planning on a move, speaking with an Atlanta relocation lawyer may prove to be beneficial.
By discussing the legal process involved in relocating, you could understand your rights and decide how to best proceed. To learn more about moving with your children, schedule an appointed with a knowledgeable attorney today.