Americans have a hard time staying put. Every year, millions of Americans pick up stakes and move to a different city or state for a bunch of different reasons, whether a job opportunity, to be closer to family, or for a better climate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.5 percent of the U.S. population – or 35.7 million Americans –  moved between 2013 and 2014 alone.

For families with children, such moves can be particularly challenging. Kids have to leave the only friends, school, and neighborhood they’ve ever known and parents have to help them cope and adjust to their new lives. But intact families are usually on the same page when deciding to relocate. For a divorced parent in Alpharetta or elsewhere in Georgia who wishes to move away from their former spouse but still be involved in their child’s life, including spending significant parenting time with them, relocation can present practical and legal challenges for all involved.

In Georgia, a custodial parent who wishes to relocate with their children must submit written notice to the non-custodial parent at least 30 days before the proposed moving date. If the non-custodial parent consents to the move, then things should proceed smoothly. As with any modifications to child support or visitation arrangements, court approval is required, and will usually be granted in cases where the parents are in agreement and there are no independent factors which would weigh against permitting the move.

Best Interests of the Child

If, however, a parent objects to the other parent’s contemplated move, a judge will need to decide whether to approve the move, a decision that will be made based upon what is in the best interests of the child. Many factors are considered when evaluating what is in a child’s best interests, 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

At the end of the day, 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.

Additionally, the child’s opinions about moving can play a role in whether a judge will approve the relocation. In cases in which the child is 14 years-old or older, the child has the right to select the parent with whom he or she desires to live. The child’s selection for purposes of custody is presumptive unless the selected parent is determined not to be in the best interests of the child. Where the child has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years, a judge will consider the desires and educational needs of the child in determining which parent shall have custody, but those preferences are not controlling.

Call the Alpharetta Child Custody Lawyers at North Metro Litigators Today

Nothing is more important to you than your children. At North Metro Litigators, we never forget that. Our experienced and committed Alpharetta child custody lawyers can help you through the divorce process so that your rights are protected and you and your children are positioned for a bright future. If you have question regarding parental relocation or any other child custody issues, please call us today at (678) 944-0000 or contact us to arrange for your free initial consultation.