If a custody/visitation order is already in place, can I get it changed?
Whether or not you will be able to change the custody/visitation order may depend on what part of the order you want to change.
Changing the visitation / parenting time portion:
Either parent can go back to court to request to change to the visitation/parenting time portion of the custody order at any time as long as a request is not made more often than once within a two-year period from the last custody decision. You do not need to show a change in circumstance to change the visitation/parenting time portion of the custody order.1
Changing the custody portion of the order:
To modify (change) the custody portion of the order, you will need to show that there has been a change in any material conditions or circumstances of either parent or the child. One possible change in circumstances could be a child’s preference to live with the non-custodial parent once the child turns 14.2 See At what age can my child decide which parent s/he wants to live with? for more information on children’s custody preferences. In addition, a military parent’s absence because of his or her deployment (or possible future deployments) cannot be the only factor used to claim that there has been a change in material conditions or circumstances of either parent of the child. However, the judge may consider evidence of the effect of the deployment in determining if there has been a change in material conditions or circumstances of either parent or the child.1
After a change of custody has been requested, the judge may temporarily change the terms of the custody order until a final custody decision is made by the judge.3
1 O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(b)
2 O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(5)
3 O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(e)