With Temporary Custody of a Minor in Georgia Can I Leave the State and Still Have Custody?

By Beverly Bird

If you have a temporary child custody order, the court may or may not permit you to leave the state of Georgia with your child. However, if you can and do leave with your child, the terms of your custody order would most likely remain unchanged -- at least until such time as a permanent order supersedes it.

Types of Temporary Custody

Georgia courts make custody decisions either as part of a divorce action or, when parents were never married, in a custody lawsuit. In both cases, if you have temporary custody, it means a judge has placed your child with you pending resolution of your divorce litigation or custody case. If you have de facto custody, the court is not involved. This simply means you and your ex parted ways and your child is still living with you. De facto custody does not involve a court order until one parent files a petition with the court, requesting either a custody decision or a divorce. When one parent files, the court will usually put a temporary order in place until a judge makes a final decision.

Georgia’s Right to Jurisdiction

If you’ve lived in Georgia with your child for the last six months, the state has jurisdiction over your matter. This is true even if no one has filed a custody or divorce petition with the court yet, so you have de facto custody. Under the terms of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the state where your child has lived for the last six months has the first right to make custody decisions regarding her. Therefore, if you move, your ex can initiate a custody litigation with the court in Georgia and require you to bring your child back so the state can decide custody.

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Relocation Procedure

You might be able to leave the state with your child if your custody order is temporary because you have an open and ongoing case with the court, but you would need either the court’s permission or the permission of her other parent. When you have a temporary custody order in place, Georgia law requires that you give your ex notice if you want to relocate. He then has the option of objecting. He can file a motion, requesting that that the court move your child into his care until a judge makes a final custody decision. The court will hold a hearing and decide whether it’s in the best interests of your child to relocate with you or to stay behind with her other parent.

Status of Custody

If you’re just traveling to another state for a limited period of time and it’s not a permanent move, Georgia would retain jurisdiction and it would not affect your custody order. However, if your ex objects to a permanent move and the judge decides your child should stay in Georgia with him, you would lose temporary custody. If the judge decides that your child can move with you, this would continue to be a temporary arrangement pending a final custody order. You would retain temporary custody, although the court would probably issue a new temporary order to include reference to the move.

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