When parents separate or divorce, determining custody arrangements can be a challenging, emotionally draining experience. You need an attorney who will listen to you and fight for your child’s best interests. Shrable Law Firm has a team of child custody lawyers in Albany, Georgia that you can count on to do right by you and your child.
Types of child custody in Georgia
Where a child lives and who makes decisions for the child are questions answered through agreements determining the child’s physical and legal custodians.
The parent who has physical custody of a child lives with the child and takes care of the daily physical needs of the child. Generally, parents have shared physical custody, with one parent holding primary and the other secondary custody.
The child lives with the parent with primary custody the majority of the time and may live with the secondary custodial parent on weekends or over school vacations, or according to whatever arrangement the court has approved.
Though agreements for joint physical custody are possible, they are not typical in Georgia. Under this arrangement, the divorced spouses would have equal parenting time.
A parent who has legal custody of a child can make important decisions for the child, such as medical care, religion, extracurricular activities, and education. In Georgia, divorced parents usually hold joint legal custody of the child. The parents share these decision-making responsibilities, and both have access to the child’s medical and educational records.
In most cases, one parent, usually the one with primary physical custody of the child, will have the final say in situations where the parents do not agree on a decision. However, this authority does not mean that one parent can make decisions without first consulting and trying to work with the other parent.
It is rare for a parent to be awarded sole legal and physical custody of a child. However, should the courts decide this structure is best for the child, the parent without custody must still fulfill child support obligations and other parenting responsibilities.
How Georgia courts determine custody
When determining custody, Georgia courts base the decision on the child’s best interests. Of course, if one parent is a danger to the child, custody will go to the other. Most cases, though, are not this extreme and the court often starts its evaluation by considering which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver. Usually, that parent will be awarded primary physical custody.
To identify that primary caregiver, the court will note which parent wakes and gets the child ready for school, prepares meals, attends the child’s doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences, and manages most other care needs.
Sometimes, parents share these responsibilities equally. In these situations, the judge will likely factor in work schedules and assess who offers the child the more stable environment, time, and resources.
Georgia parenting plans
Since 2008, Georgia has required the development of parenting plans in all custody or visitation cases. The intent of the plan is to support parents as they work through issues of custody and visitation. If the parents agree on the terms, they can file the plan jointly. If not, they must each file separately.
The plan addresses issues of physical and legal custody, visitation schedules, how the children will be transported and “exchanged” between parents, and guidelines for accessing the children’s records.
In some cases, child support and other particulars must be included in the plan. The courts also recommend anticipating unexpected situations or points of possible disagreement and accounting for them ahead of time. Ultimately, the final parenting plan is included as part of the divorce decree.
How a child custody lawyer in Albany, GA can help
Having the support of an Albany family law attorney is critical when you are working through a custody case. Even if you and your ex or soon-to-be-ex-spouse are on the same page at first, with emotions running high, the situation can change quickly. With so much on your mind during a divorce or custody case, you just may not consider all the details that can affect your arrangement.
Your child custody attorney from Shrable Law Firm will protect you from those oversights and offer you sound legal guidance and support whether the process runs smoothly or hits points of conflict. We care about our clients and prove it by giving their cases the customized attention and strategy they need, and by communicating with our clients about the progress of their case every step of the way.
Should you need to make changes to your child custody agreement, an Albany, GA child custody lawyer will help you draw up your request. Your attorney knows what factors a judge will consider most carefully should your ex-partner not agree to the changes and can help you present your request effectively.
Custody orders are in effect until the child reaches the age of 18. However, at any time until that point, a parent can request custody modifications.
While custody arrangements can be changed, the party requesting the change must provide justifiable reasons for a modification. For example, they must show the primary custodial parent is no longer a suitable or capable caregiver. They may also prove the living conditions or other circumstances in the child’s current environment no longer support the child’s well-being, and the child’s needs would be better met with custody modifications.
Sometimes, custodial parents wish to move away and live with the child in a new location. Such a move can affect the child’s visitation and overall relationship with the secondary custodial parent, their friendships, and their educational experience. To ensure the move serves the child’s best interests, a judge has to approve the relocation.
First, the custodial parent has to notify the non-custodial parent of their intent to move away with the child. This notification must be given a minimum of 30 days before the moving date. If the non-custodial parent agrees, the parents file the agreement with the court. When the parents agree, these custodial modifications tend to move through the court efficiently.
Should the non-custodial parent disapprove of the move, they can petition the court for a custody modification hearing where a judge will evaluate and rule on the issue. The burden is on the custodial parent to prove the move will benefit the child. In Georgia, children 14 or older have the option of choosing which parent they want to live with.
Our Albany child custody lawyers are ready to help
Children need and deserve to live in a positive, healthy atmosphere. The Albany, Georgia child custody lawyers from Shrable Law Firm understand how important it is to secure the custody agreement that will allow your child to thrive.
Along with extensive knowledge of child custody laws and experience with child custody cases, we offer you an attentive, supportive, communication-rich partnership. Visit our contact page or call our office at (229) 349-6291 to schedule a consultation.
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