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Can A Parent Move Away If There Is Joint Custody?

There are many people living in the Atlanta area that have either moved to Georgia from a different state or are planning to move out of state at some point. Naturally, one of the considerations that comes along with this type of major life altering decision is the impact that it will have on all aspects of the person’s life, in particular their children. Although the considerations are different depending on one’s status in the child’s life, this scenario can be further complicated if there has been conflict between the mother and father.

The key determination as to what obstacles are present when faced with a decision to relocate to a different state with a child are the legal rights that each parent has. To this end, the legal rights of the father will come down to

  • whether or not he was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, if not then
  • whether or not he has legitimatized himself legally as the child’s biological father and
  • whether he has received a court order specifying his rights to things such as notice of the mother’s intent to leave the state.

This issue of legitimation is significant because the father of the child must go through this legal process to assert his rights to the child if he and the child’s mother were not married at the time of the child’s birth.

Whether it is initiated through a legitimation action or through a divorce decree, the court will have an opportunity to review and approve a parenting plan that will specify matters such as:

  • Where the child will live
  • Which parent will be the primary and secondary custodian
  • Visitation time with the secondary parent. (This includes specific visitation issues such as where the child will spend holidays, vacations and summer breaks)
  • Additionally, these orders from the court will also include a requirement that the primary custodial parent provide notice of their intent to move to a different state to the non-custodial parent

The court’s role when it comes to any determination involving a child is always to decide “what is in the child’s best interest”. This standard is meant to be broad because every scenario involving a mother and father are different. It is simply intended to give the court leeway to make common sense rulings. In the case where one parent is intending to move out of state the court will look at factors such as:

  • The reason for the parent’s decision to move and whether there are other alternatives
  • How far away from the non-custodial parent the intended move will be
  • The means and ability of the parties to facilitate visitation
  • The child’s attachment to their current living conditions such as their neighborhood, friends and extracurricular activities
  • Opportunities for the child to engage in like activities and anticipated support at the destination location.

The above-mentioned are just a few of the factors that the court will consider when determining whether it is in the child’s best interest to move out of state. The intent of the law is for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. It is often the case that a parent moving out of state does not prevent the parental bond with the other parent from continuing to grow, especially if both parents are cooperative. It becomes particularly complicated when the mother and father are at odds with one another. Regardless, there isn’t a blanket rule preventing a custodial parent from moving out of state. However, there are protections in place for the legitimized father with established custodial rights to ensure that they are allowed meaningful access to their child, regardless of where the custodial parent moves. In this scenario it is important to seek the advice of an experienced Atlanta family law and divorce attorney. The Faucette Law Firm represents clients in all family law matters including contested and uncontested divorce, alimony, legitimation, child support, child custody and modifications. We will guide you the legal process and explain all of your legal rights. Contact our firm today for a consultation.