After a child custody order is issued, you may have reasons to modify child custody in Georgia. Child custody orders could result from different types of cases. For example, child custody may be an issue in a legitimation case. A divorce case may also involve child custody.
Regardless of the type of the original case where the custody order was entered, it may be possible to change or modify that custody order if certain requirements are met.
What do you file to modify child custody?
If there are valid reasons to change or modify child custody, you would begin the process by filing a petition for modification of child custody with the court. You would generally file the petition in the county where the other parent resides.
What are some grounds for child custody modification in GA?
There may be many possible reasons to modify child custody, but Georgia custody laws generally require a material change of circumstances affecting the welfare of the child since the last custody order. If there has been such a change, then the court would make a new decision regarding custody based on the best interests of the child. This change in material conditions could be a positive change as well as a negative change.
A child who is 14 or older selects the parent the child wants to live with
When a child who is 14 or older selects the parent that the child wants to live with, this selection could be considered a material change in condition or circumstances warranting modification of custody. The child would express his or her selection in writing and/or directly to the judge in court.
Custodial parent repeatedly interferes with non-custodial parent’s visitation
When the custodial parent repeatedly interferes with the non-custodial parent’s visitation with the child, this repeated interference may warrant a modification of custody.
Other Example of Material Change of Circumstances Affecting the Child’s Welfare
A Georgia court found that there was a material change of circumstances affecting the child’s welfare where: (1) the custodial parent abandoned the child with the custodial parent’s parents out of state; (2) the custodial parent forged a court order in an attempt to abscond with the child; and (3) the child had resided with the non-custodial parent for approximately three years and was performing well in school while residing with the non-custodial parent. Lynch v. Horton, 302 Ga.App. 597 (2010).
How soon can you modify custody in Georgia?
If there is a material change of circumstances affecting the child’s welfare after the original custody order, there is no time restraint on how soon you can file to modify custody in Georgia. That is, you could file anytime if there is a material change of circumstances affecting the child’s welfare. If the material change in circumstances is an emergency, you might be able to file an emergency petition for change of custody.
How often can you modify child custody in Georgia?
There is no limit on how often you can modify child custody in Georgia if there is a material change of circumstances affecting the child’s welfare.
How do I modify visitation or parenting time?
Once in each two-year period after the original child custody order, a parent may seek to modify visitation or parenting time (as opposed to custody) without the need of any showing of a change in any material conditions or circumstances affecting the child.
If there is a material change of condition affecting the child’s welfare, a parent may seek to modify visitation or parenting time anytime.
Can you modify a parenting plan without going to court Georgia?
You could agree to informal changes to the court-ordered parenting plan. For example, let’s say that the parents are supposed to meet at one parent’s home for custody exchange per the parenting plan. If you and the other parent would like to agree to meet at a local restaurant for custody exchange, you could agree to that.
However, any such changes would not be legally binding or enforceable via the court’s contempt powers. You would need to go through the court system to legally modify your parenting plan.
Contact a divorce attorney Atlanta for a free consultation.