Family Law (Divorce, Family Relations)/UCCJEA in Georgia
Hello. Thanks for any advice in advance. I have an issue with my ex-wife taking our six-year old daughter out of the state of Georgia and moving to North Carolina. We shared joint legal and physical custody from a divorce decree in California in 2011. We both were active military at the time. I moved to Florida, and she moved to Georgia. I agreed to allow the child to stay with the ex-wife in Georgia while I was still in the military. I retired in June 2014. I found out at the end of May 2014 that the ex-wife was moving to North Carolina with her new husband. I immediately filed a petition for sole custody with the Georgia courts. I hired a Georgia lawyer to do this. Now, my lawyer is concerned that the Georgia courts will not exercise jurisdiction because none of the parties reside in the state. From everything I have read, Georgia has jurisdiction, and can exercise that jurisdiction even without any party being in the state. I thought that was what the UCCJEA was for, especially given that the ex-wife did not have my consent nor the court's consent to take the child to North Carolina.
I have consulted with two separate Georgia lawyers, and two separate North Carolina lawyers. One Georgia lawyer told me to continue on in Georgia, and the other Georgia lawyer told me Georgia may not exercise jurisdiction. One North Carolina lawyer told me the Georgia petition is valid and to continue on in Georgia, and the other North Carolina lawyer told me that Georgia may decline jurisdiction because none of the parties currently reside in the state. I thought the UCCJEA was designed to prevent this type of confusion? Also, what my ex-wife did is akin to parental kidnapping, or at best custodial interference, which should require the Georgia courts to take action. Am I way off base with this assessment? Thanks again!
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY: I am someone with experience with Family law matters, and can give some directions of what I would do but these are my opinions: I strongly recommend that you get an ATTORNEY who specializes in family law in your immediate county/country.
Mother taking child out of state without Parent constant: Your Attorney needs to file to have case venue moved to Georgia immediately: This must be filed in order for GEORGIA to have jurisdiction over your case: Have Attorney file this because that is where the kids reside.
Your ex wife CANNOT move out of state without the courts looking at the case, here is the reason why:
Website REF: http://www.gafamilylawblog.com/relocation/
Presumption in favor of relocating custodial parent is no longer applicable in Georgia
This case was decided a few years ago, but it was a major turning point in Georgia law on relocation: Bodne v. Bodne, 588 S.E.2d 728 (Ga. 2003).
The Georgia Supreme Court held there will no longer be a presumption in favor of allowing a custodial parent to relocate and, instead, courts must look at each case to determine what is in the child's best interest.
... Read the entire aspect on the website referenced.
As far as your case, it actually is homesteaded in FLORIDA because that is where it was filed at the beginning: HOWEVER, when both parents agreed to allow children to move to GEORGIA then the case is still in Florida UNTIL change of venue is granted in which case it would be because the children and custodial parent have been living in GEORGIA. SO GET THE VENUE CHANGED!!
Here is more information for UCCJEA:
Pay attention to the verbage about 'HOMESTATE' where the petition was filed. Hence why it is important that the CHANGE OF VENUE petition be filed and asked to be changed to GEORGIA.
Hope this helps,