Can I Relocate with My Child After Divorce?

People’s lives change all the time, so it’s not uncommon for a parent to move away after getting a divorce. You might get a new job in a different state, or you might meet a new romantic partner who lives far away. Whatever the reason, you’d like to move but are wondering whether you can take your child with you. At The Epps Law Group, we help people navigate both the divorce and the post-divorce process, including providing legal advice to parents who want to relocate.

It Depends on the Circumstances

Custodial parents in Georgia don’t have an automatic right to move with their children. As the Georgia Supreme Court held in Bodne v. Bodne (2003), judges will no longer presume that it is okay for the custodial parent to move their children; instead, the judge must analyze the circumstances.

A major consideration will be your reason for moving. For example, you might be moving because of a new job or because you have met a new romantic partner. Alternatively, you might move so that your child can attend a better school or have access to better medical treatment. A judge will look more favorably on a move if you can show how your child will benefit from it.

A Judge Always Considers the Best Interests of the Child

When deciding child custody issues, judges always keep the child’s best interests at the forefront of their minds. Georgia law lists various factors that judges must consider, including the following:

  • Each parent’s relationship with the child
  • The child’s relationship with any siblings
  • The capacity of each parent to provide for their child’s needs
  • The strength of each parent’s support network
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • The child’s educational needs and school history
  • Each parent’s criminal history or history of domestic violence

Another important factor is your child’s wishes. If he or she is 14 or older, then a judge will honor your child’s wishes unless they choose to live with a parent who is clearly unfit. When your child is between 11 and 14, the judge will give some weight to your child’s preference, but it isn’t the controlling factor.

The Process for Moving

Before a custodial parent can move, they must give the other parent written notice at least 30 days before the move. If the non-custodial parent agrees, you can file paperwork with the court for the judge to approve.

However, the non-custodial parent might object to your move, in which case they can file an objection with the court. If the non-custodial parent objects, you’ll need to attend a custody modification hearing, where a judge will want to understand your reasons for moving and how the move will affect your child.

After receiving evidence, the court can either rework the custody arrangement or, in certain situations, change who has primary custody. Given the stakes, you’ll need an experienced family law attorney to help you make a compelling argument that the move is in your child’s best interests.

Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney Today

Moving as a custodial parent is a complicated process, and you’ll need an experienced Georgia family law attorney to review the circumstances and advocate for you in front of the judge. The Epps Law Group has experience helping people navigate the child custody modification process. Call us today at (678) 257-4507 orcontact us online.