Can Georgia parents move out of state with their kids after divorce?

Georgia parents who wish to relocate with their children must notify their child's other parent, or obtain permission from the court.

Following a divorce, it is common for people in Marietta, and throughout Georgia, to decide to move out of the state. This may be to get a fresh start, for job opportunities or to be closer to family. For custodial parents, however, there is more to the process than just packing up their belongings and hitting the road. In order to relocate outside of Georgia with their children, people may need to obtain permission from their child's other parent or the court.

When parents seek to move out of the state with their children, they must generally modify their child custody agreements. This is the case whether they have full custody, or joint custody. People may obtain such modifications through reaching agreements amongst themselves, providing written notifications or obtaining a court order.

Reaching an agreement

Perhaps the easiest way for people to get permission move out of the state is to reach an agreement with their child's other parent. This may be possible in cases when parents have an amicable relationship with one another. According to the Office of State Courts Administrator, parents who are able to come to terms on their own must still formally file their agreement with the court. Unless the court approves the modified parenting plan, it is not legally binding, and the prior plan remains in effect.

Providing written notification

Whether they have reached an agreement, or not, custodial parents who wish to relocate must provide written notice. The state of Georgia's website points out that such notification must be provided to the noncustodial parents, as well as to any family members who have visitation rights. Parents are required to provide this notice of their new address at least 30 days before they move.

Sometimes, noncustodial parents may contest a relocation request. In these cases, they may file a petition with the court seeking to block the move. While the court may not tell parents that they cannot move, judges may choose to modify custody agreements so that the children do not move with them.

Obtaining a court order

If the parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own, then the court may be called upon to determine whether or not to permit a move out of the state. Merely wanting to relocate is not reason enough for the court to grant a parent permission to move with his or her child. Rather, the court will seek to determine if the move is in the best interests of the child. Some of the factors that the court may consider include the following:

  • The parent's motivation for the move
  • Whether the child's standard of living will be affected
  • How relocating will impact the child's relationship with his or her other parent
  • The employment prospects for the parent in both locations

Additionally, the court may also take into consideration the child's preference. If the court finds that the move is in the child's best interests, then the child custody modification, and request to relocate, may be granted.

Seeking legal counsel

Obtaining permission to relocate outside of the state may be difficult for some parents in Georgia. As such, those considering a move may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may help them to understand their rights, as well as guide them through the process.