The Atlanta Family Law News Blog - Find an Atlanta Family Attorney

Modifying Child Custody in Georgia

It's rare for a custody order to remain the same over a period of years. Lifestyles change, and that means modifying custody may be a good idea. Each state has its own rules about custody, and Georgia is no different.

In an ideal world, you and your ex could come to an agreement on how to split time, and both of you would stick to those rules. But that kind of situation rarely happens.

The problem with a verbal agreement is that it's hard to enforce in court. If you want to modify a custody order, it's best to follow the legal rules.

The first consideration is what you actually want to modify. Georgia law sees a difference between modifying visitation time and modifying the actual custody order.

The visitation schedule specifies how much time children spend with each parent and may specify which days or holidays are spent with whom. The custody order, on the other hand, lays out how physical and legal custody of the children is divided.

To promote stability, visitation schedules can only be modified once every two years. A custody order, however, can be modified at any time.

In either case, you'll have to show a change in circumstances to justify modification and be able to prove that the change is in the best interest of your child. Moving to a new house or changing job schedules are generally accepted as justifications to modify custody or visitation.

The fact that you don't like your ex and don't want him or her near your kids is probably not going to convince a court.

A common reason to modify child custody is that your child wants to change who he or she lives with during the week.

Georgia law allows children over the age of 14 to petition the court to change custody. Once your child turns 11, his or her wishes can also be taken into account in your petition to modify custody.

In both cases, the court will still need evidence that the change is in a child's best interest.

Going through the official channels with the help of your lawyer means that you can enforce the new custody agreement. With a court order, no one can keep you away from your child.

Related Resources: