- by Mary Montgomery
Issues pertaining to children are among the most consistently contested in the Georgia family courts. Child Custody cases can be particularly contentious. Even if you and the other parent informally agree on these matters or share custody, it is important to protect your rights by having a court order in place.
A recent Georgia Supreme Court decision involved an inter-state custody dispute where one parent lived in Georgia and the other in New Mexico. Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor Managing Partner, Ryan Proctor, had a successful win just recently with a complicated and long-term custody case.
Markle v. Dass
The case of Markle v. Dass involves the legitimization and custody of a minor child, which had previously been informally shared between the mother, Ms. Dass, and the father, Mr. Markle. The parents, who were not married, resided in Georgia from the child’s birth in 2010 until January 2011, when they moved to New Mexico. The couple resided in that state with the child until August of 2012, when the mother and child returned to Georgia. Ms. Dass retained full custody of the child from that time until July 2015, while the father had summer visits during 2013 and 2014 at his home in New Mexico.
In July 2015, the child again left Georgia with Ms. Dass’ consent to stay with Mr. Markle in New Mexico, where the child was enrolled in and attended school through the fall and into the winter months. In January of 2016, Mr. Markle filed a petition with the New Mexico court, seeking to establish paternity, custody, and child support. A preliminary order was entered which prevented the child from leaving New Mexico without the written permission of the father or the New Mexico Court.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
In February of 2016, Ms. Dass filed an emergency motion with the Superior Court of Cobb County seeking the child’s immediate return to her sole custody. The Georgia Court approved her motion, citing the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in establishing Georgia as the child’s home state, and ordering that the child be immediately returned to Ms. Dass in Georgia. The Georgia Court’s ruling had the general effect of ending the Father’s lawsuit in New Mexico.
Ryan Proctor states, “While each state develops its own laws in family court matters, the UCCJEA provides procedural guidelines for interstate child custody and visitation related issues. Under the UCCJEA, the home state is considered the place in which a child and their parent or guardian has maintained a primary residence for the preceding six month period. Under these guidelines, the father was successful in appealing the Georgia court’s decision. This Supreme Court ruling will allow the father to proceed with his case in his home state of New Mexico. A big win for the firm, and more important, bigger win for the child as the court ruling was ideally the right one.”
Our Georgia Family Law Attorneys Can Protect Your Rights
The above case illustrates how important it is to have a child custody order in place regardless of your current situation. If you have questions about custody, visitation, or child support, contact Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor today. We have offices located in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and Marietta, and we provide the professional legal representation you need to ensure you and your child’s rights are protected.