What type of custody do you want?
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 are unable to come to a decision as to who has custody, then a judge will have to make the decision for you. The judge will not be affected by emotion. The judge will only be concerned with the welfare of the children. The primary factor the judge will be looking at is what is in the best interests of the child. 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. 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. It is usually mentioned in a parenting plan, which is a court ordered arrangement of custody and visitation details. If you are unable to agree on a parenting plan then you will probably be sent to mediation. If you are still unable to agree on a plan after mediation then it will be decided in court. Whether in mediation or in 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, in fact, 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 come up with 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. Unless there is evidence of abuse or an unsafe environment then 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 but the primary physical custodian will have the final say on major decisions affecting the children. 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 are, however, a wide range of parenting time schedules that can be implemented, and what works best is dependent upon 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 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 in order 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 make sure your children are taken care of properly.