How can Child Custody & Visitation be Modified in Georgia?

Child Custody can be a hot topic in regards to family law and for good reason. So many factors and judgments go into Child Custody that it can often be overwhelming. Let’s walk through some of the details surrounding child custody and how it can be modified.


Two Types of Custody

Legal Custody – Legal Custody involves large parenting decisions that a child goes through throughout his/her childhood. Things like education, religion, and illness are common areas of debate. Ideally, this responsibility is shared among both parents.


Physical Custody – Physical custody is the details surrounding the child’s living situation. Typically one parent is the child’s main custodial parent and the other parent operates via visitation rights.


Custody Order Modification

Modifying anything custody-related can be brought forward by either parent on the notion that there has been a significant change to either a parent or the child and that modification to the custody order is in the best interest of the child. Take for instance a mother who is a custodial parent taking a job promotion and having to move states. A judge can decide if the move is best for the child based on many factors such as non-custodial parent relationship, school, friendship, extracurricular activities, and even extended family living in the area.


Visitation Order Modification

Visitation orders can be a little simpler to adjust than custody. Under Georgia Law, a parent can request modification of a visitation order every two years. However, just like custody modification, the child’s best interest must remain the center of whether or not any adjustments are made. One common situation is a parent’s work hours changing and not aligning with his/her current visitation schedule.


Child Preferences

When a child turns 14 years old, Georgia law allows that child to choose which parent they want to live with which may lead to a modification request. A judge will still confirm that the child’s choice aligns with his/her best interest. Younger children 11 to 14 will have their preferences considered but do not carry the same weight as older kids and a judge will have more power to decide what is best.


Requesting Modification

To request a custody modification, that request is often filed in the same county in which the order was originally created. Either parent has the right to request this modification. Once filed, a judge will set a date and inform the other parent of the hearing. At this time, both parents will have a chance to speak and present a case. Ultimately, a judge will always keep the best interest of the child at the forefront of any decision.


When pursuing custody modification, having an experienced family attorney can help guide and navigate the modification process from beginning to end. If you have experienced life changes that require a review of your child’s custody order, reach out to The Law Offices of Gina Smalley. We would be honored to help in any way we can.

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