In Georgia, children that are aged 14 years or older have the right to choose the parent with whom they wish to live in the case of relocation. The relocation statute requires the custodial parent of a child to give all parties that have been granted visitation rights 30 days notice of the intent to move. If you are considering relocating a minor child from Georgia after divorce, there are a few things you need to know.
You may be required to modify your custody and visitation agreements due to the relocation. If you relocate without filing the appropriate paperwork with the court, you could be brought up on contempt charges. Relocation without court approval could result in an action to compel the return of the child.
The agreement process for child relocation depends on whether both parents, or parties with custodial or visitation rights with the child, agree or disagree with the move.
When All Parties Agree to Relocation
When all parties agree, a relocation agreement can be finalized without the need for a court date. The written agreement must include:
- Both parties consent to the relocation
- Details of the visitation schedule for the parent that is not relocating.
- Transportation arrangements related to the visitation schedule.
The agreement must be signed and properly filed with the court.
When All Parties Don’t Agree with the Relocation
When all parties do not agree with the relocation, the procedure is different. The parent that is seeking to relocate must file a petition with the court that includes:
- The address of the new location, including city, state, and zip code.
- The date of the intended relocation.
- A statement detailing why the parent is seeking relocation.
- A proposed visitation agreement, including transportation arrangements.
The petition must be properly filed with the court and served to the other parent.
If the parent served does not respond, the proposed relocation is presumed by the court to be in the child’s best interests. If the parent served does respond with an objection, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether child relocation is in the best interests of the child.
There are several factors the court may consider when evaluating the child’s best interests.
These include, but are not limited to:
- The nature of the child’s relationship with each parent
- The nature of the child’s relationship with non-relocating extended family
- Age of the child
- The child’s preference
- Reasons for relocation
In most areas of family law relating to decisions impacting children, courts may also consider “any other factor” that affects the best interests of the child.