Modifying child custody and visitation rights

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2019 | Family Law

When a couple with children divorces in Georgia, each person likely has their own idea of how the custody arrangements should work. When couples are in agreement about this, it may make things a lot easier. However, a child custody order that was appropriate to both parties in 2009 may no longer work for 2019. As children grow older and the parents’ work-life situations change, they may consider modifying a court order related to child custody and visitation rights. 

According to USA Today, this is actually a fairly common case seen in family courts. Both parents have the right to seek a change to the visitation rights plan. While each party may have their own reasons for making this request, the court makes a decision based on what it believes is in the best interest of the child. The parent requesting the change may also need to show what life changes have taken place that make the old plan no longer suitable for them. 

Here are some of the common instances when parents may seek modifications: 

  • The child wants to live with or spend more time with another parent 
  • One parent takes on a busier work schedule 
  • One parent moves to a new location 
  • The child turns 18 

The State of Georgia notes that when a child turns 14 years old, they have the opportunity to decide which parent they want to live with. They may also request changes to this once in every two-year period. Note that even if no changes are made, the court may opt to review the visitation rights every two years. 

If it is the custodial parent who plans to move further away, Georgia requires them to provide notice via a written letter at least 30 days before doing so. Custodial parents are typically required to send this letter to the noncustodial parent or anyone else who may have visitation rights, such as a grandparent. These guardians also usually receive information related to the new address. 

Not surprisingly, when custodial parents move house and take the child with them, the noncustodial parent may put up a fight. In these cases, courts may once again consider the best interest of the child. They may also wish to verify that the custodial parent did not orchestrate the move to deliberately limit the other parent’s access to the child.