Relocation of Custodial Parent Can Create Custody Issues

The relocation of a custodial parent can create more confusion and issues in already difficult custody battles. For parents in Gwinnett County, going through a divorce and determining a child custody situation is difficult enough; now imagine if one of the parents is relocating from Georgia to another state or even internationally. The move could create serious limitations on when and how the noncustodial parent can visit his or her children.

This situation has been highlighted recently in a public custody dispute involving Gossip Girl actress Kelly Rutherford. Rutherford divorced her husband in 2009, and they have been involved in a custody battle over their two children ever since. Her ex-husband currently lives outside of the United States and is barred from returning because his visa has been revoked.

Because of these travel restrictions, the children live with their father and the actress is required to travel to visit her children. Because of her work schedule, she finds the travel demands of the current custody arrangement to be too difficult and she wishes to have her children live with her.

When the relocation of a parent is proposed in Georgia, a determination must be made as to whether a move will be in the children's best interests. Both parents can expressly consent to relocation, or there can also be a requirement that the relocating custodial parent provide notice of a possible relocation and allow the impacted parent to consent or object. The relocating parent must show that he or she is acting in good faith and moving for reasons such as a better job or to be closer to family, rather than retaliation against the non-custodial parent. If circumstances dictate, a custodial parent can be prevented from relocating or only allowed to move to a new location within a specified distance.

As with all child custody determinations, the main factor to consider is the best interests of the children. If relocation is in their best interests, both parents must act in good faith and do what they can to ensure that their respective legal and physical custody rights to their children are maintained.

Source: People, "Kelly Rutherford Vows to 'Never Stop Fighting for My Children'," Stephen M. Silverman, Sept. 1, 2012

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