Georgia divorce laws child custody

Legal custody is the right to make major decisions regarding the child. With joint legal custody , both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child. One parent has final decision-making rights about medical, educational, extracurricular, and religious decisions. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. With joint physical custody , both parents share substantially equal time and contact with the child. In awarding joint custody, the court may order joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.

In Georgia, children who are 14 years or older often make a custody election about which parent they would prefer to live with. However, a judge can overrule the custody election if the judge decides that living with the childs preferred parent is not in the childs best interests. According to the child custody laws in Georgia, a parenting plan is required for any custody agreement.

The parenting plan generally must recognize that:. In Georgia, child support payments are generally calculated based on a formula.

Can a child choose which parent to live with in Georgia? | The Ward Law Firm

Those calculations are based on a number of factors, including the gross income of both parents, self-employment taxes, any pre-existing child support orders, whether either parent is supporting another child, and health insurance premiums, among other things. To determine how much child support your children may be eligible for, the Georgia Child Support Commission has created an online child support calculator.

Generally, child support in Georgia must be paid until the child reaches 18, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated. If a child is in secondary school, payments may last until the child turns If you are seeking child custody in Georgia, you need to understand all the state laws that could impact your claim. Custody is typically decided twice.

Custody and Parental Rights in a Georgia Divorce

First, it is addressed at the temporary hearing. Temporary custody is usually very early in a case, a month or two in after the filing. Custody on a permanent basis is determined at the trial of the case, or at any point prior to the final hearing when the parties may be able to reach a final agreement.


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In order for custody to be changed, 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 the custody have so changed that the welfare of the child would be substantially enhanced by modification of the original custody award.

See Jones v. VanHorn, Ga. Elders, Ga. There are no time restrictions on when a modification of custody can be filed. The moving party must, however, be able to show that there has bee a change in circumstances that would warrant modification. In the event that the parties cannot agree on a custody arrangement, then the judge will make the determination of custody.

Even with a recommendation from a Guardian Ad Litem, the judge still has full discretion to make the custody determination based on all evidence presented at trial. An ex parte order is an order from a judge without having given opportunity for both parties to be heard. The only time that one can expect to receive an ex parte order is in a situation where the children may be in severe danger and giving the opposing party time to respond may result in significant harm to the child.

The standard in Georgia is to determine custody based on the best interests of the minor child. Unless one parent has been a danger to the child, the beginning point is to typically establish who has been the primary care giver for the minor child. In most cases, the primary care giver will receive primary physical custody. In cases where these duties are equally shared, it is a little more difficult for the judge to determine.

Do not move from the marital residence or the home where the child is living until there is an agreement. Many men decide that it is better for the child to be in an environment where the parties are separated than to live in a contentious environment with both parents. Do not allow her to have that power over your relationship with the children. From a really basic perspective, the way to increase your chances of having more custody time, is to be more involved with your child. Be there for extracurricular activities, participate in bedtime and bath time, take the children to school, etc.

The easiest way to get extra custody time is to show the court that the needs of the child dictate your available presence. Visitation may also be known as secondary physical custody.

The Four Parts of Georgia Divorce: Child Custody

Yes, a judge has discretion to order supervised visitation. It is not very common, but in cases where it is shown that it is likely that one parent is a risk for harm to the minor child, a judge can order supervised visitation.


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  • This may mean supervision by a family member, a supervision agency, or law enforcement. As to no visitation, it is highly unlikely that a judge would order no visitation unless parental rights have been terminated. The unfortunate reality is that many judges do have a preference of mother over father. However, in determining custody, a judge must consider the evidence presented as to who is in the best position to provide for the minor child. Gender of the parent should not come in to the evaluation.

    Before a trial of any type, you should know that the most important this is preparedness. Be able to answer every allegation that may be made. Be able to show that you have been an active, involved parent.

    Be able to show any downsides that may exist for the other side. Some evidence can be gathered independently by a party. However, not all documents produced by a client are admissible.

    How to look out for the best interest of your children while going through a divorce

    For example, original bills received by the client from a creditor may be admissible in court. However, printouts from Websites like MySpace or Facebook may not be admissible as gathered by the party. Most courts will require authentication of those types of documents and may require production directly from the Website administrator. Photographs taken by any person other than the party will not be admissible without testimony from the person who actually took the photograph.

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    Georgia Family Law Help and Advice Center

    Even a police report provided by a client is not admissible without testimony from the police officer who produced the report. It is very important for clients to gather information in the way of documents, witness lists, etc. The attorney will have to evaluate each document to determine if that piece of evidence is admissible in court or if an admissible version of the document should be obtained through the discovery process.

    Guardian ad Litems are often necessary. Guardians are valuable assets for any father seeking primary custody of his children.

    What Are the Types of Child Custody in Georgia

    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. This act applies in all interstate custody actions, even when kidnapping has not been asserted. A great deal of this particular act addresses jurisdiction issues for cases when the parents have filed custody actions in two separate states. It violates federal law for two states to concurrently assume jurisdiction over the same custody matter. According to the act, the state that will have jurisdiction is the one that: has subject matter jurisdiction over the matter under state law and is the resident state of the child or either parent.

    Once a divorce action is filed and both parties have notice of the filing under Georgia law, neither parent can remove the child from the state while the divorce is pending without consent from the other parent. After custody has been determined and a divorce decree entered, a decision to move the child out of the state may warrant evaluation of the wisdom of the move from Georgia. Any time a parent decides to move away, the other parent should file a modification action. That is not to say that a move will automatically change custody, but a decision to move with the children certainly is a change of circumstances that warrants review by the court.

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