My fourteen (14) year old daughter told me that she now wants to live with me instead of her mother. Can she?
A fourteen (14) year old child may elect the parent with whom he or she wants to reside, and the court must honor his or her election, so long as the parent with whom the child wants to live is not adjudged to be unfit.

Can I seek a modification of custody requesting that all three of my children live with me based on my fourteen (14) year old (oldest) child’s election?
With respect to the younger siblings, if they also desire to live with you, your older child’s election in addition to the younger children’s desires may provide the basis for a change of custody of all three (3) children. Each case is fact specific, and it will depend on the details of your situation.

My twelve (12) year old son has told me that he wants to live with me instead of his father. Is his desire sufficient to change custody to me?
His desire alone is probably not sufficient to change custody. While Georgia courts are authorized to consider the desires of a child between the ages of 11 and 13, in order to authorize a change of custody, the party who brings the action must show that (a) there has been a material change of condition (b) substantially affecting the interest and welfare of the child, and (c) the evidence offered to prove such condition must be fresh, having occurred since the most recent custody award. The desire of a 12 year old child standing alone would probably not meet this test.

Recently, my eight (8) year old son, who lives with his mother, has been doing poorly in school and his teachers have reported to me that he often comes to school in dirty clothes and wet hair. Can I seek a change of custody for these reasons?
Generally, in a case between parents, to authorize a change of custody, the party who brings the action must show that (a) there has been a material change of condition (b) substantially affecting the interest and welfare of the child, and (c) the evidence offered to prove such condition must be fresh, having occurred since the most recent custody award. If your son’s performance and appearance in school has changed since custody was awarded to his mother, you may have a basis to file for a change of custody. Each case is fact specific, and it will depend on the details of your situation.

What factors does the court consider when determining whether to change a prior custody order?
Generally, in a case between parents, to authorize a change of custody, the party who brings the action must show that (a) there has been a material change of condition (b) substantially affecting the interest and welfare of the child, and (c) the evidence offered to prove such condition must be fresh, having occurred since the most recent custody award. A slight change in condition will not authorize a change of custody, and each case is fact specific.

What factors does the court consider when determining whether to change a prior visitation order?
Generally, in a case between parents, to authorize a change of visitation, the party who brings the action must show that (a) there has been a material change of condition (b) substantially affecting the interest and welfare of the child, and (c) the evidence offered to prove such condition must be fresh, having occurred since the most recent custody and visitation award. However, the court has the authority to review and modify visitation rights once every two years from the date of the original order without the necessity of proving any change in condition, whether slight or substantial, of either party or the children.

How often can I file to change custody? Visitation?
An action to change custody and/or visitation can be brought at any time following the most recent custody order, provided you can prove that (a) there has been a material change of condition (b) substantially affecting the interest and welfare of the child, and (c) the evidence offered to prove such condition must be fresh, having occurred since the most recent custody and visitation award. With respect to visitation only, the court has the authority to review and modify visitation rights once every two years from the date of the original order without the necessity of proving any change in condition, whether slight or substantial, of either party or the children.

My ex-husband recently, within the last 6 months, moved from Georgia to California with our 3 year old daughter. Where should I file an action to change custody to me?
Generally, if a court in the State of Georgia issued the most recent order regarding the custody and visitation of your child, Georgia is the proper place to file. However, the Georgia court may decide that Georgia should not handle the case if there is no longer a significant connection with Georgia and substantial evidence is no longer available in Georgia.

My ex-husband has filed a Motion for Contempt against me for not allowing him to see our children. In response to that claim, can I file an action to modify his visitation as I have concerns about his time with the children?
Yes. While generally a court cannot modify a previous order in a contempt action, visitation may be modified pursuant to a party’s request or by the court’s own prerogative.

If I file an action to modify custody, can my ex-spouse be ordered to pay my attorney’s fees?
Generally, no. Unless your ex-spouse has made a frivolous claim, been stubbornly litigious, or has otherwise acted in bad faith during the litigation, in which case the court has the power to award attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation, the court has no authority to award attorney’s fees in an action solely to modify custody and/or visitation. However, if your case includes a claim for modification of child support incident to the change of custody, the court may award attorney’s fees, costs and expenses of litigation to the "prevailing" party with respect to the child support claim, regardless of who files the case, and can also require the party seeking a modification of child support to pay your ex-spouse’s attorney’s fees and expenses for having to defend the case. Ultimately, it’s entirely within the court’s providence to award fees or not in such a case.

SOURCE: DivorceNet