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Where the Children Are

Jennifer and Robert were divorced in Iowa. She entered into a written agreement with Robert in which she consented to their two daughters living with their father in Georgia for approximately nine months. Having remarried, however, Jennifer headed for sunny Florida. Before the nine months had expired, she took the children from Robert's house and took them to Florida. This led Robert to file his change of custody action in Georgia.

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (OCGA Section 19-9-43), "jurisdiction in child custody cases is generally in the state in which the custodial parent resides."

The court made the following observations: "Neither the parties nor the children reside in Iowa, the state in which the final decree was granted. While the mother resides in Florida, Florida has already declined jurisdiction of the case in favor of Georgia. Moreover, the children have never resided in Florida and have no significant ties to that state."

While in Georgia, the children attended school and "appeared to be thriving under their father's care."

The court held that the Georgia court "could assume jurisdiction over this case pursuant to OCGA Sec. 19-9-43(a)(2) because substantial evidence is available in Georgia bearing on the children's past and future activities, relationships, and care." It did not go unnoticed by the court that "no other state has jurisdiction."

As we become ever more a transient society and state, we thought this case might be significant and of interest.


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