In Georgia, at what age can a minor decide which parent to live with, without having to go back to court?
Until a child is of the age of majority (18 years), he/she cannot choose with whom to live, absent a court order. Consider the situation of a 17-year-old child who wants to begin living with her mother, rather than her father, who has custody.
That child can "elect" to live with her mother, but in order for that election to be enforceable, the parties have to revise their Parenting Plan and have it signed off by a Judge. This can all be done by consent, but it still has to be signed off on by a Judge to make it legally binding.
If the current Parenting Plan has the father as primary physical custodian and the father is OK with the child going to live with her mother, the mother is the one that is arguably taking a risk if the Parenting Plan is not legally changed. The reason is that the father could enforce the current Parenting Plan a month later and the mother would be in contempt for failing to abide by the custody arrangements. There may be other factors to be considered as well. If you are in a situation such as the one above, your best bet would be to have a consultation with a local family law attorney so that they can ask you all relevant questions and make a informed recommendation for you.
By Patrick L. Meriwether, Partner, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC