Do Georgia parents lose custody if they leave the state?

Today’s American society is more geographically mobile than ever before. Many people do not live in one place for their entire lives anymore. Whether it be for professional purposes, personal reasons or just wanderlust, individuals often find themselves packing up and heading off to start a new life. This process can be quite complicated when children are involved, and can be even more so if parents are divorced, and sharing legal custody with one having primary residential care.

While being a parent doesn’t mean you have no freedom to change residential locations, it may require some extra consideration if you and the child’s other parent aren’t together. This is because, since a Georgia Supreme Court case decided in 2003, there is no longer a presumption that the custodial parent should retain custody if he or she moves. What this means is, the non-custodial parent may file a petition for modification based upon the change in circumstances created by the custodial parent’s move.

Georgia family courts, in deciding such cases, will look to see what the best interests of the child are. As such, as we have mentioned before, there is very little way to know how a court will rule, as the “best interests” standard will vary with the facts of every case. While a move to allow the parent to become more financially secure may be good for the child in the long run, this may have to be balanced against the effect on the child’s relationship with the other parent, or the specific living arrangements and uprooting of the child’s routine.

As can be seen, it may be wise for both custodial and non-custodial parents to think through the potential consequences on child custody when a move out of state is a possibility. One way to attempt to figure out one’s best options may be to consider consulting a Georgia family attorney.

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