Going through a divorce can put a lot of strain on the relationship you have with your kids, particularly if they spend more time with your ex than with you. You likely treasure the time you get to spend with your children, but the risk is always there for the situation to change in a way that reduces that precious parenting time.

One of the most common reasons a parent who wants shared custody struggles to spend time with their kids is a relocation by the parent with primary custody. The better you understand your rights in this scenario, the easier it will be to stand up for yourself and protect your relationship with the kids.

Your ex has to tell you and the courts about the move ahead of time

To protect the children from parental alienation, the courts require the formal approval of any major changes during or after a divorce. A relocation beyond a certain distance will typically require a Georgia family court hearing.

If your ex wants to move to another city or state, they will need to give the courts at least 30 days’ notice and advise you as well. That way, you can argue your side of the situation to the courts.

Your ex should have a valid reason to move

For a long time, the Georgia courts presumed that any move made by the primary caregiver would be in the best interests of the children. However, the 2003 Bodne v. Bodne Georgia Supreme Court ruling changed that and set a new legal precedent in place. Now, a parent must demonstrate that the move is in the best interest of the children.

Valid reasons for wanting to move could include getting closer to family or other support networks, accepting affordable housing arrangements or securing a better-paying job. Remarrying could also be a reason that someone wants to move. The courts will review the move itself as well as the custody arrangements.

The courts could approve the move but allocate primary custody to you so that the children could stay in the same school district. They may also allow the move and allow your ex to retain primary custody while creating a new parenting plan that allows you to spend more time with the children during summer or school vacations. In some cases, they may also decline to authorize the move.