Title 19, Chapter 9, Section 1
(a)(1) In all cases in which a divorce is granted, the party not
in default shall be entitled to the custody of the minor children
of the marriage. However, in all cases in which a divorce is
granted, an application for divorce is pending, or a change in
custody of a minor child is sought, the court, in the exercise of
a sound discretion, may look into all the circumstances of the
parties, including improvement of the health of a party seeking a
change in custody provisions, and, after hearing both parties, may
make a different disposition of the children, placing them, if
necessary, in possession of guardians appointed by the judge of
the probate court.
(2) In addition to other factors that a court may consider in a
proceeding in which the custody of a child or visitation by a
parent is at issue and in which the court has made a finding of
(A) The court shall consider as primary the safety and
well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of
(B) The court shall consider the perpetrator's history of
causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing
reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault to
(C) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of
domestic violence by the other parent, such absence or
relocation for a reasonable period of time in the circumstances
shall not be deemed an abandonment of the child or children for
the purposes of custody determination; and
(D) The court shall not refuse to consider relevant or otherwise admissible evidence of acts of family violence merely because there has been no previous finding of family violence. The court may, in addition to other appropriate actions, order supervised visitation pursuant to Code Section 19-9-7.
(3)(A) In all cases in which the child has reached the age of 14
years, the child shall have the right to select the parent with
whom he or she desires to live. The child's selection shall be
controlling, unless the parent so selected is determined not to
be a fit and proper person to have the custody of the child.
(B) In all cases in which the child has reached the age of at
least 11 but not 14 years, the court shall consider the desires,
if any, and educational needs of the child in determining which
parent shall have custody. The court shall have complete
discretion in making this determination, and the child's desires
are not controlling. The court shall further have broad
discretion as to how the child's desires are to be considered,
including through the report of a guardian ad litem. The best
interest of the child standard shall be controlling.
(C) The desire of a child who has reached the age of 11 years
but not 14 years shall not, in and of itself, constitute a
material change of conditions or circumstances in any action
seeking a modification or change in the custody of that child.
(D) The court may issue an order granting temporary custody to
the selected parent for a trial period not to exceed six months
regarding the custody of a child who has reached the age of at
least 11 years where the judge hearing the case determines such
a temporary order is appropriate.
(b) In any case in which a judgment awarding the custody of a minor
has been entered, on the motion of any party or on the motion of the
court, that portion of the judgment effecting visitation rights
between the parties and their minor children may be subject to
review and modification or alteration without the necessity of any
showing of a change in any material conditions and circumstances of
either party or the minor, provided that the review and modification
or alteration shall not be had more often than once in each two-year
period following the date of entry of the judgment. However, this
subsection shall not limit or restrict the power of the court to
enter a judgment relating to the custody of a minor in any new
proceeding based upon a showing of a change in any material
conditions or circumstances of a party or the minor.
(c)(1) In any case in which a judgment awarding the custody of a
minor has been entered, the court entering such judgment shall
retain jurisdiction of the case for the purpose of ordering the
custodial parent to notify the court of any changes in the
residence of the child.
(2) In any case in which visitation rights have been provided to
the noncustodial parent and the court orders that the custodial
parent provide notice of a change in address of the place for
pickup and delivery of the child for visitation, the custodial
parent shall notify the noncustodial parent, in writing, of any
change in such address. Such written notification shall provide a
street address or other description of the new location for pickup
and delivery so that the noncustodial parent may exercise such
parent's visitation rights.
(3) Except where otherwise provided by court order, in any case
under this subsection in which a parent changes his or her
residence, he or she must give notification of such change to the
other parent and, if the parent changing residence is the
custodial parent, to any other person granted visitation rights
under this title or a court order. Such notification shall be
given at least 30 days prior to the anticipated change of
residence and shall include the full address of the new residence.
(d) In the event of any conflict between this Code section and
Article 3 of this chapter, Article 3 shall apply.