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How relocation affects child custody

A divorced parent in Georgia who is considering moving may wonder what the laws are regarding child custody. If a parent who has primary physical custody intends to move some distance away, it may be more difficult for the other parent to see the child.

Although laws about parental relocation differ from state to state, in Georgia, it is not illegal for a custodial parent to move. However, the parent who is moving must give the other parent 30 days' advance notice, and that parent may apply for modification of visitation or custody on the grounds that it constitutes a material change of circumstance.

A court will consider a number of factors in deciding what happens next, but the abiding concern will be the child's best interests. A court may switch primary custody to the other parent or revise the visitation schedule. If the noncustodial parent decides to apply for custody, the court may weigh factors such as the age of the child and the child's wishes as well as how disruptive such a move might be for the child.

It is also possible that the parent who is not relocating may be unable to gain primary custody or may not wish to have primary custody but needs the visitation schedule modified. For example, the noncustodial parent may have had the child on several weekdays each month, but that might not be feasible after the custodial parent moves to another part of the state several hours away or to another state. Child relocation can introduce a number of complex aspects to a child custody arrangement. Both the relocating parent and the parent who is remaining behind may wish to consult an attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Relocation Laws," Accessed on Jan. 14, 2015

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