Custody FAQ

Who will be the legal guardian of our child? Is it necessary for me to hire a Georgia child custody lawyer to assist me with my case?

Legal custody and physical custody are the two categories of custody in Georgia. Both forms of custody are generally often shared between the parents.

In most cases, the parents are given joint legal custody, which means they must share decision-making authority over the children and have equal access to the child’s medical and educational records.

When the parents are unable to agree on a course of action, one parent will be given ultimate decision-making power. Typically, the parent with primary physical custody makes the ultimate choice.

In most circumstances, physical custody is also shared. However, in most cases, one parent is recognized as the main physical custodian, while the other is assigned secondary physical custody. Physical custody is determined by the courts based on a number of considerations, the most significant of which is who has been the main caregiver for the child(ren) during the marriage.

What is the definition of shared custody? What does it mean to have exclusive custody?

In the state of Georgia, dual legal custody is the norm. When the parents share decision-making power over the minor kid, this is known as co-parenting.

Religious upbringing of the child(ren), medical care of the child(ren), extracurricular activities, and education are typically four areas where choices must be taken together.

Despite the fact that a shared legal custody arrangement requires the parents to share decision-making power, the courts will appoint one parent as the ultimate decision-maker if the parties cannot agree.

A parent with final decision-making power cannot make a unilateral choice. Even if one parent is designated as the ultimate decision-maker, that parent must communicate with the other parent before making any critical choices for the kid (ren).

In the state of Georgia, joint physical custody is not the norm. The term “joint physical custody” refers to a situation in which the parents share equal or nearly equal parenting time. Georgia judges are biased against equal parenting time. Joint physical custody is a parenting arrangement that is usually only possible by mutual consent. The main custodial parent will be assigned by the judges, while the secondary custodial parent will be assigned by the judges.

Exclusive custody is an extremely uncommon situation in which one parent has sole legal and physical custody and the other parent has no rights. Having exclusive custody, on the other hand, does not absolve the other parent of their responsibilities, such as child maintenance.

In Georgia, does anybody pay child support if both parents split custody?

Even if the parties can agree on equal parenting time, one parent will often continue to pay child support. Because child support is dependent on income, the parent with the larger income will almost certainly pay some. Only in cases when the parties share equal parenting time and virtually equal salaries will there be no assistance given.

Is it possible for a parent to refuse visitation if child support is not paid?

No. Child support and visitation are two independent rights and duties that are not linked.

When will my kid be able to choose which parent he or she wants to live with?

At the age of 14, a kid may choose which parent he or she wants to live with. The election, on the other hand, is not a given. Even if the kid elects a parent, the parent who is not chosen by the child has the opportunity to offer evidence that the child’s choice is not in the child’s best interests. Overcoming a child’s election is really challenging. Only in the most egregious of situations may a judge refuse to accept the child’s choice.

In Georgia, do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

Grandparents do not have any custody rights in the state of Georgia. If both parents are dead or ruled unfit, a grandmother is likely to be given first consideration in a custody review. Grandparents, on the other hand, have no rights to children until they die or are declared unsuitable.

The parenting plan is the section of the final divorce decision that deals with all child custody concerns. The parenting plan must be completed in its entirety. It should recognize the value of a child’s bond with both parents, as well as the child’s legal custody and a plan for his or her physical care.

The parenting calendar should include standard visiting times as well as a holiday schedule. The plan must include how each parent will have access to documents pertaining to the kid’s education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious education, as well as who will be responsible for making significant decisions about the child.

Is it possible for my separation agreement to be included in my Georgia divorce decree if it involves custody and support?

In Georgia, the word “separation agreement” is not often used. Separation agreements are uncommon in Georgia since the state does not recognize legal separation.

In the event that the parties decide to live apart but not divorce, a separate maintenance action may be brought. Custody and support may be handled in a separate maintenance lawsuit.

If the parties opt to divorce, the court is likely to maintain the status quo unless either party can demonstrate a change in circumstances that requires a modification or if the separate maintenance arrangement does not fulfill Georgia’s support criteria.

The Final Settlement Agreement is also referred to as a separation agreement. In the case of a divorce petition, the court has the authority to include any agreement reached by the parties in the final divorce judgment.

Temporary orders are orders that control the parties’ behavior while a divorce case is pending. The parties may usually anticipate the court to order one individual to leave the home while keeping the marital dwelling in its current state.

The court will very certainly require that the party that has been paying the bills continue to do so. This is frequently quite problematic, especially when one spouse works and the other is a stay-at-home parent. The court will most likely order the one working party to vacate the premises, but the bills will continue to be paid.

The court will understand that the stay-at-home partner must make some contribution, but that it may take time for that person to find work.

In Georgia, the standard is for one party to have primary custody and the other to have alternate weekends of visitation. Because interim orders are frequently filed early in a case before the parties have time to collect sufficient information to indicate why normal visitation is not in the child(renbest )’s interests, the courts usually default to alternate weekends.

When will the child custody issue be resolved?

Typically, custody is determined twice. The temporary hearing is the first place where it is addressed. Temporary custody is frequently granted within a month or two after the filing of the lawsuit. Permanent custody is decided during the case’s trial, or at any moment before the final hearing when the parties may be able to strike an agreement.

When will I be able to change custody?

The moving party must show that the party to whom custody was originally awarded is no longer able or suited to retain custody, or that the conditions and circumstances surrounding the child or the parent out of custody have changed to the point where modification of the original custody award would significantly improve the child’s welfare. Elders v. Elders, 206 Ga. 297 (2006); Jones v. VanHorn, 283 Ga. App. 141 (2006). (1950).

There are no time limits on when you may seek a modification of custody. However, the relocating party must be able to demonstrate that there has been a change in circumstances that necessitates adjustment.

What if we can’t come to an agreement on a custody plan?

If the parties cannot agree on a custody agreement, the court will make the decision. Even if a Guardian Ad Litem makes a recommendation, the court has complete authority in deciding custody based on the evidence presented at trial.

What is an ex parte order, and how does it work?

An ex parte order is one issued by a court without both parties being given the chance to be heard. The only time an ex parte injunction is likely to be issued is when the children are in grave danger and providing the opposing party time to react would cause considerable damage to the kid.

What criteria are used to determine custody?

In Georgia, the criterion is to decide custody based on the minor child’s best interests. Unless one of the parents poses a risk to the kid, the first step is to determine who has been the main caregiver for the minor child. In most situations, physical custody will be given to the main caregiver.

The main caregiver is the parent who gets the kid ready for school, prepares meals, bathes the child, brings the child to doctor’s appointments, attends parent-teacher conferences, and so on. It is a bit more difficult for the court to decide in circumstances when these responsibilities are evenly divided. Work schedules, who has available time for the children, stability, capacity to give, and, at a certain age, the child’s age are all factors to consider.

How can I improve my chances of obtaining a more favorable custody agreement?

Do not leave the marital home (or the house where the kid resides) until an agreement has been reached. Many men believe that it is preferable for the kid to grow up in a home where the parties are separated rather than in a home where both parents are fighting.

Though this is a good idea, if you move out before a custody order is in place, your rights to visit your kid are essentially at the mercy of your wife. Allowing her to have so much control over your connection with the kids is not a good idea.

From a very fundamental standpoint, being more connected with your kid will boost your chances of having longer custody time. Participate in extracurricular activities, assist with bedtime and bathtime routines, transport children to and from school, and so on. The simplest strategy to get more custody time is to demonstrate to the court that the child’s needs need your attendance.

What is the definition of visitation?

The non-custodial parent’s parenting time is referred to as visitation. Secondary physical custody is another term for visitation.

A court has the authority to impose monitored visitation or no visitation. A court may impose supervised visitation at his or her discretion. Although it is uncommon, a court may impose supervised visitation in circumstances where it is shown that one parent poses a significant danger of damage to the minor child. This might include family monitoring, a supervision agency, or police enforcement. In the case of no visitation, a court is unlikely to impose no visitation unless parental rights have been terminated.

Do courts prefer mothers over fathers?

The unpleasant truth is that many judges favor mothers over fathers. A court must, however, examine the information offered in establishing who is in the greatest position to care for the young kid when determining custody. The court must evaluate what is in the best interests of the kid. The parent’s gender should not be included in the assessment.

What should I be aware of prior to a custody hearing?

You should be aware that the most crucial aspect of any trial is preparation. There is a “winning” and a “loser” in every custody dispute. Knowing what the opposing side would say to attempt to label you as a “loss” is part of being prepared.

Be prepared to respond to any accusation that may be leveled at you. Be able to demonstrate that you were a hands-on, engaged parent. Be prepared to demonstrate any disadvantages that the other side may have. Prepare to step up in front of the court and tell him or her, “I can and will care for my kid, and custody of my child should be awarded to me because it is in my child’s best interests.” Be able to back up everything you say.

Is it possible for me to gather my own evidence to use in court if my custody case gets to trial?

A party may obtain some evidence independently. However, not all of a client’s papers are acceptable.

Original invoices received from a creditor, for example, may be admissible in court. Printouts from websites like MySpace or Facebook, on the other hand, may not be accepted as evidence acquired by the party. Most courts would seek verification of such papers, and may even demand production from the website administrator directly.

Photographs taken by anybody other than the party will not be accepted unless the person who took the image testifies. Even a client-provided police report is inadmissible without the testimony of the officer who created the report. Clients must compile information in the form of papers, witness lists, and other materials and present it to their attorney. Each document will be evaluated by the attorney to see whether it is acceptable in court or if an admissible version of the document should be acquired via the discovery process.

Is it necessary for me to hire a Guardian ad Litem or a Custody Evaluator?

Guardian ad Litems are often required. Because it is doubtful that a court will take the time to learn the intricate details of a child’s upbringing and determine who is, in fact, a superior caregiver, a third party inquiry is required.

Guardians spend time with the kid, the parents, and other parties who are present with the child and the parents, and may have a far better understanding of the child’s best interests than an attorney could in a one-day trial. Any parent seeking primary custody of his children should hire a guardian.

Will my kid have to go to court?

It is very uncommon for a youngster to be asked or required to testify in court. In fact, in many cases, courts will see a parent who urges a kid to testify against the other parent adversely. If a child’s voice needs to be heard, it’s ideal to enlist the help of a Guardian ad Litem, who may act as the child’s voice and advocate.

The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is a law that prohibits parents from abducting their children.

Even though there is no allegation of abduction, this statute applies to all interstate custody cases. A large portion of this statute deals with jurisdictional difficulties in circumstances when the parents have filed custody proceedings in two different states. Concurrently assuming jurisdiction over the same custody case is illegal under federal law.

The statute states that the state with jurisdiction is the one that has subject matter jurisdiction over the case under state law and is the child’s or either parent’s residence state.

What if my wife seeks to relocate the children to another state?

Under Georgia law, after a divorce case is filed and both parties have received notice of the filing, neither parent may transfer the kid from the state while the divorce is ongoing without the other parent’s approval. The court cannot require the custodial parent to stay in Georgia or limit that parent’s right to migrate once a custody decision is made.

Following the determination of custody and the entry of a divorce decree, a decision to relocate the kid out of Georgia may necessitate a review of the move’s wisdom. When one parent wishes to relocate, the other must submit a modification action. That isn’t to argue that moving with the kids will automatically alter custody, but it is a significant change in circumstances that should be reviewed by the court.

Is it possible for a parent to alter their child’s last name without the consent of the other parent?

Without both parents’ approval, a child’s name cannot be legally altered.

Will I be entitled to child support if I have custody?

Under the terms of the divorce order, all major physical caretakers will be supported in some way. The right to receive child support in Georgia cannot be waived since it is seen as a right of the kid, not the custodial parent.