Legal victory for a mother who was deprived of her daughter by the child’s father for more than one year.

I represented a mother who allowed the father to take her daughter for a visit in the summer of 2013. He moved with the child to Georgia and she did not know where the child resided for several months. He petitioned the court in Henry County for a change of custody. We argued that the court should withhold jurisdiction due to his unjustifiable conduct according to OCGA 19-9-68

The Judge agreed after her testimony and my cross examination of the father and the child was returned to my client that day.

There have been some significant rulings in the Court of Appeals that affect parties who are fighting to change custody or to enforce an agreement. Chatman V. Palmer decided July 11, 2014 by the Georgia Court of Appeals decided that the trial court had no authority to change custody permanently. The Family Violence Act cannot be use as a vehicle to modify custody. A complaint for custody cannot be made as a counterclaim or in response to any other action or motion seeking to enforce a child custody order.

This should be of some consolation to those seeking to enforce a custody order.

A modification or change in custody is not as easy to obtain as many may think.

In the case of Morgan V. Fordham the Georgia Court of Appeals Morgan was awarded physical custody and Fordham filed for modification of custody. Fordham won the modification of custody but Morgan appealed and the Georgia Court of Appeals vacated the Order because the Trial court did find that it was in the best interest of the child, but the Trial court order did not refer to the requirement for material change in condition and circumstances substantially affecting the interest and welfare of a child and it did
not make any finding of facts on the record regarding such material change.