What type of child custody solution works for your family?
There are two different types of child custody:
Legal Custody – When you have legal custody of a child, it means that you can make decisions for them on issues like health care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing.
Physical Custody – When you have physical custody of a child, it means that the child lives with you.
If you cannot decide who will take the custodian role, a judge will arrange this for you. The judge will not be affected by emotion and will only be concerned with the welfare of the children. The primary factor the judge will be looking at is what is in the child’s best interests. In determining which parent is the proper physical custodian, the judge will examine:
- How fit the parent is to be a custodian
- The needs of the child
- How well the parents can communicate and act together
- How the parents have provided care so far
- What the child wants (depending on the age of the child)
- What is safest for the child
- Any custodial agreements of the parents
- Any history of domestic violence
Common Questions for a Child Custody Lawyer
- Are courts more likely to award child custody to the father or mother? Traditional gender roles have changed significantly regarding who works and who takes care of the kids, and this is not as much of a factor as it once was when determining custody in Georgia. The main goal is to create a parenting plan that benefits the child.
- What is “parenting time”? In Georgia, it is the visitation and custody time each parent has with the child. Parenting time is laid out in a parenting plan, the plan a court-ordered arrangement of custody and visitation details. If you cannot agree on a parenting plan, you will likely attend mediation to make an arrangement. If you are still unable to agree on a plan after mediation, it will be decided in court. Whether in mediation or court, you will need an experienced divorce attorney on your side to protect your rights.
- What if I am not married to the mother of my child? Unfortunately, you have no legal rights until the child is legitimated.
- Can parents share custody? Yes, Georgia courts encourage shared custody arrangements. You can get joint legal custody as well as joint physical custody or both. There are many different types of joint custody, so you can develop a schedule that benefits you and the children best.
- As a mother, do I automatically get custody of my kids? Not necessarily. Custody arrangements are based on the facts of the case rather than gender roles. Unless there is evidence of abuse or an unsafe environment, most courts favor joint custody. They believe the children benefit from having both parents in their lives.
- What is the most common joint custody plan? Usually, both parents will have joint legal custody; however, the primary physical custodian will have the final say on the children’s major decisions. It is not uncommon for the kids to live with one parent while the other parent has parenting time every other weekend, alternating holidays, and an extended period in the summer. There is a wide range of parenting time schedules, and what works best depends on the facts of your case.
- Will the parents be required to attend a parenting program? That depends on the county in which the divorce is filed. If you do have to attend, you and your spouse do not have to go together. The required education program, entitled “Seminar for Parents of Minor Children,” talks about issues specific to people involved in a divorce, separate maintenance, paternity, change of custody, visitation, legitimation, and other domestic relations matters involving children.
- Can a child custody order be changed? Yes, but there may be a 2-year limitation on custody changes.
- Can I change the custody order if I move out of state? Yes, but you may need our help. An experienced divorce attorney can help you through the process a lot easier than trying to do it alone.
- As a father, am I able to obtain primary custody of my children? Gender doesn’t matter, but custody does often go to the primary caretaker. The judge decides who is the primary parent by ascertaining:
- Who gets them ready for school?
- Who helps with schoolwork?
- Who takes them to the doctor?
- Who cares for the children when they are sick?
- Who takes the children to school activities, parent-teacher conferences, etc.?
*In certain instances, a custody evaluation by a psychologist or Guardian ad Litem may be necessary to resolve contested custody issues.
If you want to protect your custodial rights regarding your children, then we want to be beside you in the courtroom. We have extensive experience representing both mothers and fathers in custodial cases. If you need a child custody lawyer, we will aggressively and expertly present your case because we want to ensure your children are properly taken care of.