The determination as to which parent will maintain custody of the children at the conclusion of a divorce is one of the most hotly contested issues couples will face in family law. The Court will base it’s determination on a number of factors, all of which are centered on what is in the best interest of the child. Sometimes matters involving the custody are further complicated when a parent, either voluntarily or because of employment opportunity, decides to move to a different State. This issue can arise prior to the conclusion of the divorce or anytime that the child is a minor and in the care of the custodial parent.
At some point the Court will decide who has custody of the child and this will drive what authority a parent has to make decisions. In the State of Georgia custody can be sole or joint. Regardless, Georgia requires the custodial parent to provide notice to the non-custodial parent of their intent to leave the State. The non-custodial parent could then object to the move and present evidence to the Court that the potential move would be harmful to the children. The Court is always bound by a determination of what is in the best interest of the child and will consider factors outlined in O.C.G.A 19-9-3 such as:
- the child’s age
- the child’s relationship with their school and friends
- the custodial parent’s new family unit
- recommendations of a guardian ad litem
- the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent
- the custodial parent’s reason for relocating
- each parent’s employment schedule and flexibility
- each parent’s past performance of parenting responsibilities
Additionally, the Court will also consider the new proposed visitation schedule to accommodate the move, the cost of the travel for visitation and the effect of any potential travel on the ability to maintain a consistent environment for the child. It is not uncommon for life events to arise that may facilitate a need to relocate to a different area. Employment opportunities is by far the most common reason this issue comes up. However, other causes such as family support or a new relationship could be other legitimate reasons to relocate. The Faucette Law Firm represents clients in matters related to contested and uncontested divorce, child custody, child support, modifications and spousal support. We serve the Douglasville, Marietta and Atlanta areas. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.