If you are a custodial parent in Georgia and plan to relocate, or if your children’s custodial parent is planning on relocating and you object to it, you may want to explore the relevant Georgia custody law.
Before 2003 in Georgia, it was presumed that the custodial parent was acting in the best interest of the children when choosing to relocate. The presumption could be rebutted only if the non-custodial parent could show that the move would be harmful to the children and place them at some type of risk.
That changed in 2003 with the Georgia Supreme Court ruling in the case of Bodne v. Bodne, 277 Ga. 445 (2003). In a split decision, the Bodne court specifically held:
- When a custodial parent chooses to relocate, the primary consideration must be what is in the best interest of the children. All other factors are secondary.
- There is no presumption of any kind in relocation cases. It cannot be presumed that relocation is or is not in the best interest of the children.
- Each situation must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
In Bodne, the custodial parent was the father, although both parents had been deemed to be fit, and each had a loving relationship with the children. The mother had visitation rights which allowed her equal custody and involvement in the life of the children. She objected to the father’s move because it would disrupt her children’s lives as well as her relationship with them.
Considering the above factors, the trial court agreed with the mother and transferred physical custody of the children to her. The Supreme Court ruled in the mother’s favor.
In Salmon v. Davis, 286 Ga. 456 (2010), the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that the best interest of the children is the deciding factor in solving custody disputes, even those involving relocation.
Relocation Evidence the Court Will Consider
According to Bodne and Davis, whether you are the custodial parent wanting to relocate, or the parent objecting to the relocation, evidence you can present to the court to support your position includes, but is not limited to:
- Reasons for the relocation.
- Why the relocation will or will not be in the best interest of the children.
- Testimony of teachers and friends as to the anticipated effect of the relocation on the children.
- Evidence of how the relocation will affect the visitation and relationship with the noncustodial parent.