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SC Law Attorney
SC Law Attorney, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 344
Experience:  I have been practicing primarily in the field of Family Law for approximately 17 years
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My daughter is 16 and lives in GA with her father but now wants

Customer Question

My daughter is 16 and lives in GA with her father but now wants to live with me in NC. The original court order for custody is in FL. He has primary and I have secondary. Her father never had any papers transferred to GA. He is threatening to have me arrested if she does not come back-is this true?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ellen replied 7 years ago.

I am the JustAnswer expert that will be helping you today. I am a lawyer with 25 years experience. Although I am not your attorney, I hope that I can give you helpful legal information.

I cannot understand how any attorney could tell you that a 16-year-old child subject to a court order can disregard that court order. Nor can I understand how an attorney can state that Florida does not have jurisdiction.

A child does not have the right to choose which parent the child lives with until the child reaches the age of majority -- 18 years old. In addition, the court that originally entered the child custody order maintains jurisdiction until and unless that court transfers jurisdiction to another state.

That said, you may and file for modification of the custody agreement in Florida based upon the preference of your now 16-year-old.A court will typically give her opinion great weight but is not in any way bound by it

Age is not the only factor that is considered by the court. Typically, the court will take into consideration the maturity of the child and the child's reasons for requesting the change.

I hope that the information which I provided was helpful to you.

Best wishes for a successful outcome. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to submit them to me directly.

Thank you,
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Well I'm not sure why they told me that but I had two attorneys tell me that FL doesn't have jurisdiction since she has lived in GA for 4 years and I would not need to file for modification since no parties live in that state any longer. And he does not have full custody.
Expert:  Ellen replied 7 years ago.
I will opt out without charge so that another expert can provide a second opinion
Expert:  SC Law Attorney replied 7 years ago.
Do you still need help?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Yes please. It's like I've been told different things by different lawyers. My ex says she has to go before a judge in GA.
Expert:  SC Law Attorney replied 7 years ago.
Yes, under the UCCJEA, which is the Act that addresses child custody matters, since neither party remains in the state which issued the original order, modification needs to occur where the child's new state is. And if you are seeking a modification, you must file. You stated in the first request "box" that the child lives with the father, but later you state he doesn't have sole custody, but you don't state what the current arrangements are. Again, if you are seeking modification regardless of what the current situation is, you will need to file in GA. If the order is fairly clear as to what your visitation is, and you have not returned the child, the father can file contempt against you for violating the Florida order, however, to add to the confusion, he would at this time need to file for ENFORCEMENT where you live. There are many "penalties" available to the Court, including jail, for someone who violates a Court Order. Your safest bet is to file for a modification if your child wants to live with you now.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank you for your response. So I need to file for modification of the custody in GA even though GA has no papers whatsoever on her? When I contacted a lawyer in GA they wouldn't even speak to me because there wasn't an order in their system.



As far as visitation it was a separate item agreed upon outside of the court.


I have filed for modification of child support in NC and they are working with the state of Florida as well.

Expert:  SC Law Attorney replied 7 years ago.
Call another lawyer, then. They will need to "domesticate" the GA order, which some attorneys don't understand the process so they're "afraid". But with the child living there, that's where the action needs to be. Explain to the attorney that neither party lives in the issuing state and the child has been in GA for 4 years now. That's all they need to know. He'll never contest jurisdiction, so the whole "domesticating the order" may not even need to come up. It's basically just a matter of filing the order with the request that it be "domesticated" to Georgia, and then the usually pleadings/papers to modify custody. Good luck!
SC Law Attorney, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 344
Experience: I have been practicing primarily in the field of Family Law for approximately 17 years
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