Kirk Adams : Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.
Kirk Adams : Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3, (5)-(6), a child who is 14 or older has the right to select the parent with whom he or she desires to live. The child's selection for purposes of custody shall be presumptive unless the parent selected is determined not to be in the best interests of the child.
Kirk Adams : Thus, the election is not immediate.
Kirk Adams : Instead, the judge must still approve the election, and in order to do so, the judge will determine whether or not it is in the child's best interest to live with the selected parent.
Kirk Adams : Also, the child doesn't have the right to refuse the non-custodial parent visitation. Instead, the child and custodial parent must honor the visitation order.
Customer: My child is afraid of her father and when she officially makes the choice, she will be terrified to go to his house at all for fear of retaliation from him. I'm sure we are not the first family in this situation. What are our options? She wants to know that as soon as she signs, she will be able to elect not to go to his house at all.
Kirk Adams : You could file a motion to modify custody based on her desire to live with you and then request an emergency hearing on the matter. You could also request a temporary restraining order/protective order to allow the child to live with you until the hearing occurs.
Kirk Adams : If you have an attorney or hire an attorney, he/she will be able to file these things to allow her to legally remain with you until the court rules on the matter.
Customer: Thank you very much