Child Relocation After a Divorce in Georgia

When a divorce is over, the former spouses are left to move on with their lives. In doing so, they are often presented with new opportunities that can change their life. Sometimes, this requires them to move because of a job offer or a family matter. If the individual is a parent, this can create a difficult situation for the family.

When a parent has to relocate, they usually want to bring their child with them. Many times, the child’s other parent may oppose this because they do not want their child to move far away from them. In the event that both parents disagree about relocating their child, they may need to go to court to settle the issue. It is important to know that both parents, regardless of custody arrangements, have a say in this matter.

Physical Custody vs Legal Custody

Custody arrangements are made after a divorce to determine the roles both parents will have in their child’s life going forward. These arrangements can establish physical custody and legal custody of a child. While they are two different concepts, neither is necessarily more important than the other. Physical custody is in regards to the child’s custodial parent, whom the child will live the majority of the time. While this is true, the child still spends time in the home of the non-custodial parent as well.

Legal custody covers a different aspect of a child’s life. It determines the amount of influence a parent has in making decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. When a parent has legal custody, they are able to have a say in the important decisions regarding the child’s life. This includes issues such as medical treatment, the child’s education, religious practices, and even relocation. It is important for a parent to fight for legal custody even if they do not have physical custody. This gives them certain rights regarding important matters of their child’s life, including their possible relocation.


For a long time in Georgia, there were few laws stopping child relocation regardless of whether or not the other parent opposed the move. This was changed in 2003 by the court decision in Bodne v. Bodne. The case changed custody laws as well as how courts handle the issue of relocation. Now, similar to other states, courts are required to rule in the best interest of the child.

In order to come to a conclusion regarding the best interest of the child, the court will consider several different factors before reaching a decision. This can include:

  • The age and health of the child as well as each of their parents
  • The impact on the non-custodial parent if the child moved
  • The academic and social impacts of the move on the child
  • The practicality of travel options
  • The financial impacts of sharing travel costs
  • The impact the relocation would have on the child’s quality of life

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