Understanding The Child Custody Process
The attorneys at Skipper Law, LLC, understand that your children are likely to be your highest priority in any family law matter. That’s why we work toward solutions that protect the best interests of kids and preserve your relationship with them.
Keep reading for a basic overview of how child custody works and how we can help you.
Mediation As A First Step
In this part of Georgia, child custody cases must first go through mediation before they can be litigated. If you and your child’s other parent can negotiate in good faith, a mediated child custody agreement is often better for everyone involved. It gives both parents more control over the outcome and limits the fighting and stress that can harm children.
Contested Child Custody Basics
There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to each parent’s authority to make major decisions on behalf of their children related to religion, education and medical care. Awarding joint legal custody is standard practice in Georgia.
Physical custody refers to how often the children will be with each parent (what’s often referred to as the parenting plan). Joint physical custody is usually only awarded through mediation, because it demonstrates that the parents can work together well enough to equally share parenting time.
If custody is contested, courts still try to keep both parents involved in their children’s lives, but parenting time will likely be split unevenly. While not true in every case, it is common for courts to award primary custody to one parent while the other has regular visitation.
When children are 14 years of age or older, they can present their elected choice of a primary parent to the court and it is generally accepted. If they are younger than 14, the court will determine custody based on evaluations, and in some cases, a recommendation from a guardian ad litem.
Modifications To Child Custody Orders
Although custody orders are binding and meant to endure, parents are allowed to petition for changes to custody if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This could include the changing needs of the child as he or she grows older, one parent’s decision to move a significant distance away or some other scenario entirely.
In addition to representing you during initial custody proceedings, our attorneys can also help you seek a modification to or enforcement of the order.
Paternity Actions For Fathers
In Georgia, fathers do not automatically have parental rights if they are not married to the mother of their children at the time a child is born. If you are an unmarried father seeking custody or visitation, you must first establish paternity and then petition the court for parental rights. Our attorneys can guide you through this process and help you maintain a connection with your children even if you are no longer in a relationship with the children’s mother.
Contact Us To Arrange A Consultation
Skipper Law, LLC, is located in Dallas, Georgia, and serves clients throughout the Atlanta metro area. To speak to an experienced child custody lawyer and learn more about how we can help you, call us at 770-693-0644 or send us an email.