Additional Help With Filing
Check with your superior court for county-specific information. Many have Family Law Information Centers to assist self-represented parents. The court clerk can also help for example, they can tell you which forms your case requires .
You might also turn to a legal aid office for free or low-cost guidance.
Can A Custodial Parent Move To Another Part Of Georgia Or Out Of State
Yes, but it is not a simple matter of picking up and moving which child custody issues are in play.
A parent who changes their residence must give notification to the other parent. Also, if the parent changing residence is the custodial parent, the notification must be given in writing at least 30 days before the move to any other person granted visitation rights or parenting time per the custody order.
Parents have the right to challenge the move if they do not feel it is in the childs best interests or if it will significantly impact visitation and other rights that a parent has with the child.
What Does Sole Custody Mean In Georgia
In most cases, sole custody implies that one parent has all decision-making authority over the minor kid , and the minor child spends little to no time with the other parent.Georgia recognizes two types of custody that can be assigned with joint or exclusive authority: physical custody and legal custody.Legal custody refers to the authority granted to a parent or guardian to make key life decisions on their childs behalf.
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How Do I End The Temporary Guardianship
If you are the natural guardian of the minor and you would like to end the temporary guardianship, you must file a Petition to Terminate Temporary Guardianship. The temporary guardian may consent to the Petition, but if he or she does not, the Court must have the temporary guardian personally served with a copy of your Petition. If the temporary guardian objects to the termination of the temporary guardianship, the parent and guardian will be ordered to mediation. If no agreement is reached, the case will be transferred to the Chatham County Juvenile Court for a final decision.
If you are the temporary guardian and you would like to resign as temporary guardian, you must sign consent for resignation and the successor temporary guardian would need to file a Petition for Letters of Temporary Guardianship of a Minor. Your temporary guardianship automatically terminates on the day the minor turns 18, is adopted, becomes emancipated, or dies. A court order may also terminate a guardianship.
Sole Or Joint Custody
Joint Custody refers to a condition under which the parents share decision making authority on how to raise their child. Joint custody is the most common decision in child custody arrangements in Georgia. Joint custody mandates that both parents discuss any major decisions about the childs upbringing.
Sole Custody refers to a condition under which one parent has exclusive custodial rights and the other parent has no rights. Sole custody in Georgia is usually put into effect only in cases of extreme problems associated with a parent such as child abuse, molestation, severe alcohol or drug abuse and similar situations. Parents who do not have visitation rights remain obligated to make any court ordered child support payments.
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Can My Child Choose Which Parent They Want To Live With
If your child is 11, 12, or 13 years old, the judge will consider the childs wishes, but the judge still has complete discretion. The childs wishes do not control the custody outcome.
The parental selection of a child 11, 12, or 13 years old is not considered a material change of condition or circumstance in order to seek a modification of child custody.
If your child is 14 years and older, the child does have the right to choose the parent he or she wants to live with. The parent the child chooses will be the custodial parent unless the court finds that the chosen parent is not in the best interests of the child.
The parental selection of a child who is 14 years and older can, in and of itself, be considered a material change of condition or circumstance when seeking a modification of child custody.
Factors That May Hurt Your Chances For A 50/50 Joint Custody Arrangement
When You and Your Spouse Disagree
In the ideal divorce, both parents agree about all the specifics of child custody. But the ideal divorce is vanishingly rare.
If you and your spouse cant agree on custody arrangements, or your relationship is too volatile to make an agreement possible, there are several steps the court may take, including appointing a guardian ad litem or ordering a custody evaluation.
Judges are often reluctant to award equal custody to parents who are sharply in disagreement or exhibit obvious animosity. Try to resolve differences through mediation or counseling, if possible.
The court will consider both parents behavior during the marriage when deciding what is in the best interests of the child. Specifically, factors that affect how well each parent will be able to care for the child and create a healthy environment will weigh heavily.
There may be circumstances where one spouse is found to be unfit to parent, usually because of abuse, neglect, or addiction issues.
If warranted, courts can order an investigation into charges of abuse or neglect on the part of one or both parents. In instances where both parents are found to be unfit, a third party, such as a grandparent or close relative may be assigned custody.
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When Can My Child Decide Which Parent To Live With
At age 14, a child can select which parent to live with. However, the election is not an absolute. Even with the election, the parent who is not being selected by the child still has the right to present evidence that the childs election is not in his/her best interest. It is very difficult to overcome a childs election. It is only in the most extreme of circumstances that a court may not go with the childs election.
Legal V Physical Custody
In the State of Georgia there are two primary types of custody legal and physical. Legal custody is the custody rights pertaining to decision making and access to records concerning the child. On the other hand physical custody refers to the physical access of the child in terms of being the primary residence in which the child resides or the access to the child during visitations. The courts will outline via court order the arrangement of both physical custody and legal custody the physical custody and legal custody arrangements can be divided between the parents in the form of joint custody or sole custody. In any event, the custody decisions in a Georgia uncontested divorce must be agreed to, signed, dated, and notarized in a documents called a Parenting Plan. The Georgia Parenting Plan agreement, once executed by the parents must be filed with the court and approved by a Superior Court judge. See O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1.
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Faqs About Joint 50/50 Custody In Georgia
The Georgia courts do not give preference to mothers when deciding custody issues, so fathers should not be at any disadvantage when seeking 50/50 custody. The main factors influencing the decision will be the best interest of the child and the ability of the parents to work together and carry out any joint custody agreement.
Child support in Georgia is calculated based on a formula that takes into account the income of both parents and necessary expenses for the child. There are several adjustments the court can choose to apply to these, and one of these is known as the parenting time deviation.
If you are caring for the child for more time than average, either because of joint custody or increased visitation, your child support responsibility may be reconfigured at the discretion of the courts. Each situation will be evaluated based on the best interests of the child, however, and joint custody does not always equal lower child support payments.
Most people have heard of joint custody situations where the child spends one week with one parent and the next with the other, but there are many other arrangements that work well for both children and parents.
Consider your childs needs and temperament as well as your own obligations when figuring out the right custody schedule for everyone.
Child Custody Emergency Hearings & Modifications
To obtain an emergency hearing you, or your lawyer, must file a petition with the court which declares an emergency issue that requires immediate action. Typically the court considers emergency situations that endanger the health, welfare or safety of the child. If the hearing is granted the petitioner will present evidence that substantiates the claim. The respondent may present counter evidence to dispute the claim. The judge will consider the evidence and render a decision that serves the best interests of the child.
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Legal Custody And Physical Custody
Georgia recognizes two categories of custody that may be assigned with joint or sole authority:
- Legal Custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make major life decisions. Major life decisions include religious upbringing, school choices, etc. Ideally the parents can discuss and agree on major life decisions, however one parent will be chosen to have the final decision-making authority.
- Physical Custody refers to the decision as to which parent or guardian the child will have as their primary residence.
Fathers Have Equal Rights
In the state of Georgia, neither parent is given custody preference based on gender alone.
Instead, a variety of factors go into a judges decision when making a custody ruling. After considering all of the evidence presented, a judge will rule in favor of the parent who can provide the best living situation for the child.
One caveat to this equality is the difference between married and unmarried fathers. If a father was married to the childs mother when the child was born, the father automatically has equal shared custody.
If the father was never married to the childs mother, the mother has full custody, and the father has no automatic rights to custody or even visitation. However, he does have the right to petition the court for these.
The father must establish legitimation in order to ask the court for custody rights. Legitimation requires more than proving paternity, which merely gives a court power to enforce a fathers duty to pay child support. Legitimation gives a child the right to inherit from their father, among other things, and provides the father with the right to request child custody or visitation from the court.
However, it should be noted that a fathers custody rights are not automatic even if they establish legitimation. It is up to the court.
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Physical Custody In Georgia
Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Both parents can share physical custody. However, even if both parents share physical custody, one parent must be the primary physical custodian while the other parent receives secondary physical custody.
Courts determine the primary physical custodian based on which parent had been the childs primary caregiver before marital separation.
When parents share joint physical custody, they must equally divide their parenting time with their child. In cases of joint physical custody, a child must live in-between homes. In Georgia, joint physical custody is unusual since parties can only accomplish it through mutual agreement.
Does The Court Consider What A Child Wants In Custody Issues
When a child reaches age 14, they can choose a custodial parent. The judge honors the childs wishes unless that parent is unfit.
A judge may also consider a childs wishes between ages 11 and 14, but the childs educational needs are also a factor.
A childs choice of the custodial parent is not absolute. The court retains final decision-making authority and will base a decision on several other factors to determine the custody arrangement best suited to the childs needs.
In addition, a custody evaluator or guardian ad litems recommendation can also impact the judges decision.
Sometimes, a judge grants custody for six months to see if an arrangement works before making a permanent decision.
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Who Will Get Custody Of Our Child Do I Need A Georgia Child Custody Lawyer To Help With My Case
In Georgia, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. In almost all cases both of the custody types are shared between the parents.
Typically, the parents are awarded joint legal custody, which means that the parents must share in decision-making regarding the children and that the parents have equal rights to the childs medical and educational records.
Ultimately, one parent will be awarded final decision-making authority for times when the parents are unable to reach a mutual decision. Typically, final decision-making goes to the parent who has primary physical custody.
Physical custody is, in most cases, also shared. However, usually there is one parent designated as the primary physical custodian and the other parent receives secondary physical custody. The courts determine physical custody based on several factors, including, most importantly, who has been the childs primary care giver during the course of the marriage.
If you are facing a child custody issue in Georgia, it is almost always best to ensure that you have a child custody attorney in your corner to help protect your rights. A Cordell & Cordell Georgia child custody lawyer will be well-versed in the child support laws of Atlanta, Fayetteville, Lawrenceville, Marietta and other jurisdictions throughout Georgia.
Will My Child Need To Appear In Court
It is very rare that a child is ever asked or expected to testify in court. In fact, in many circumstances judges will think negatively of a parent who asks a child to testify against the other parent. In the event that there is a need for a childs voice to be heard, it is best to have a Guardian ad Litem involved who can be the voice and representative of the child.
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The Ultimate Guide To Child Custody Laws In Georgia
When parents divorce or separate, their children become the central focus of upcoming legal proceedings. Custody issues affect tens of thousands of families across the State of Georgia, changing the ways that divorced and separated parents continue to remain an important part of their childrens lives.
Custody issues are complicated. They involve a web of legal issues related to family law, divorce, child support laws, visitation rights, and more. To help you understand the basics of child custody laws in Georgia, our team of family law experts created this guide as an overview of the laws and regulations that may affect your child custody case. Below, our team compiled 20 of the most common questions related to child custody laws in Georgia.
It is important to remember that every custody case is different. Every family deals with unique facts and issues that require careful analysis by an attorney. To learn more about how these laws might affect your case, contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates for a FREE legal consultation.
How To Get Emergency Custody In Georgia
In some cases, a child’s safety or life depends on an immediate change in custody. Emergency custody orders are appropriate when there’s an immediate threat to a child’s wellbeing such as parental kidnapping , drug addiction, or child abuse. Emergency orders usually require the parent to appear in court or participate in a drug testing program.
A close relative of the child, or the State of Georgia, can petition the court for an emergency hearing. A judge will schedule a hearing as soon as possible after the Motion for an Emergency Hearing is filedsometimes within 24 hours. At the hearing, a judge will consider evidence from all sides.
If the judge determines that it would be in the child’s best interests to be removed from his or her parents’ home, a judge will place the child with a close relative or the foster care system. See Ga. Code § 19-7-5 .
Emergency custody orders are usually temporary orders designed to keep a child safe until a permanent custody order can be established. Parents will usually have a follow-up hearing after the initial emergency hearing. Emergency custody orders don’t terminate parental rights, but can serve as a reminder to parents to clean up their act or risk losing their children forever.
If you still have questions about parental fitness and child custody in Georgia, you should contact an experienced family law attorney for advice.
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Modification Of Child Custody In Georgia
After the initial custody order, legal and physical child custody can be modified if there has been a material change in circumstances that substantially affects the best interests of the children, and this change has occurred since the entry of the initial custody order. Obtaining a modification is usually a matter of filing for a Petition for Modification of Custody in the right court but jurisdiction in custody cases can be very complicated, especially if either parent has moved since the original order was filed.
If you are interested in modifying your child custody then please consult an experienced attorney rather than trying it alone. It can be very confusing without expert legal advice to guide you, as you can see from some of the questions found below.