Every time a “For Sale” sign appears on a front lawn or a “For Rent” ad appears online, it means someone is moving. Americans pack up their belongings and head out for new homes every day. In fact, – a lot. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.5 percent of Americans – or 35.7 million people – moved between 2013 and 2014 alone.
Starting a new life in a new home can be challenging for anyone, especially if it also involves moving far away. But for kids, moving can be particularly hard. They don’t have a say in a decision that will take them away from their friends, their school, and the streets they grew up on. If their parents are married, though, their family will be a comforting constant, and the relationship between parents and their children will remain unchanged. For divorced parents, relocation can be much more complicated. If a custodial parent wants to move any significant distance, it can disrupt the other parent’s relationship with their child and impact custody and visitation arrangements.
Your Rights as a Parent for Relocating
It is important for parents to understand that there is no requirement for court approval to move in Georgia. If a parent sits on their rights, i.e. to block the relocation, then the parent wanting to move can up and leave. If one parent wishes to stop the other from moving, they need to file an action to get a standing order in place. If an action isn’t filed, the other parent can (and will) move.
Also, the US Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of travel. A state court judge CANNOT bar a PARENT from moving. All a court can do is modify custody if a parent is going to move if the court finds that the move would not be in the best interests of the child.
Relocation Must be in the Child’s Best Interest
If one parent raises objections to the other parent’s contemplated move, a judge will need to decide whether to allow the move. Whether he or she will grant the relocation request is based on whether moving is in the child’s best interest. Judges consider many factors when evaluating what is in a child’s best interest, including the maintenance of a healthy relationship and parenting time between the non-custodial parent and the child. Other factors may include:
- The reasons why the party wishes to relocate with the child;
- The reasons why the opposing party is objecting to the proposed relocation;
- The history and quality of each party’s relationship with the child;
- The educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- Any advantages of the child remaining with the primary caregiver;
- The anticipated impact of the move on the child;
Ultimately, a Georgia judge can’t stop and won’t stop a parent from moving, even if they decide that it is not in the best interests of the child to make the move with that parent. In such cases, the judge will likely modify the custody arrangements to give primary custody to the non-moving parent.
Call the Alpharetta Child Custody Attorneys at North Metro Litigators Today
If you are a divorced Georgia parent contemplating a move, or if your former spouse is asking to move away with your child, please reach out to the Alpharetta child custody lawyers at North Metro Litigators today. We can answer your questions, guide you through the process, and ensure that your rights and those of your children are protected.