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Joseph, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7280
Experience:  I have over a decade of experience as a Family Law litigator
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Im writing to try to help a friend who is very upset about

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I'm writing to try to help a friend who is very upset about her situation between her ex-husband and her daughter. Her now 15-year-old daughter decided more than a year ago to live with her father who is remarried and has two step daughters, 15 and 17. My friend totally understood why her daughter would want to live with her father.

Over three months ago her ex-husband dropped the daughter back at her place and said he was done with her and that my friend could have her back. My friend works full-time and was having to drive an extra two hours a day to take her daughter back and forth to school (she was in school in a different county). Her ex-husband gave her no money during those three months to compensate for her having to take care of her daughter. I should also mention that the father agreed to let the daughter stay with him on Thurs nights only because my friend had to be at work at 7 a.m. on Fridays and could not take her daughter to school. Besides that the father did not see his daughter but once during a family wedding in a three month period.

Recently my friend filed to get custody back. She recently got a new job in a new city about an hour from her ex-husband. Her daughter really wants to move with her Mom as she lives in a school district that is getting a brand new high school and she really wants to be back with her Mom.

Since living with her father, the daughter has gone from a straight A private school student to a B-C student at a county high school. She has also had to start seeing psychologist.

Since filing for custody the father has started back pedaling and acting like he just gave the daughter to the mother while she was going through a tough time. He made no effort to see his daughter for three months except for Thursday night because it was a necessity for her to get to school and because of a family wedding.

My friend has tried to tell her ex-husband that she will take her daughter back with no child support. The father told his daughter, "you can live with your mother but only if she doesn't ask for child support." But now that she has a new job making good money, my friend thinks he will try to keep the daughter and ask her for child support.

This is in the state of Georgia. What are my friend's chances in court? Can the daughter change her mind about where she wants to live? I read where the child can not change their mind for two years?

It's always difficult to predict what a judge might do in any particular situation. With that caveat, I would suggest that your friend has a good case. I say this as a custody modification is typically based on a substantial change in circumstances. Here, the father had basically given the child to the mother, this is clearly a change in circumstances.


The key here will likely be in whether your friend can prove that she has been solely responsible for the child for the past few months. If she can do that, my speculation is that she will prevail. As to proof, she could certainly testify as to the arrangement and, if she is so inclined, she could request that the child come to court to testify as well.


As to the child's desires, she is certainly old enough to express her preference. In general, a child should be at least twelve years of age before being brought to court. As this child is fifteen, she is old enough to provide her opinion and that opinion will certainly be considered by the judge.

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