Deciding child custody is, by far, the most difficult and challenging part of a divorce. Even if the parties have come to an arrangement, there are usually factors that need to be worked out in court. It is best to contact a lawyer before you take your case to court. Custody laws in Georgia are quite complex and the court demands that you have a clear-cut plan in place with regards to the safety and protection of the children involved.
In cases where both parents have come to an agreement, the court will want to know the specifics of that agreement and how the interests of the children are served. The courts will act in the best interest of the child, or children, involved. It is wise to have a plan, as well as lawyer before you go before the judge. Make sure everyone agrees with the arrangements because having it amended can be difficult unless there are factors involved that put the children at risk for any reason.
In some cases, the judge may decide to grant sole custody to one of the child’s parents. The court can make this determination if it feels that it is best for the child. In most cases, the parent that has been denied custody is found to be, in some way, harmful to the child’s welfare. In this case, the parent who has been given sole custody also is given physical custody. They are responsible for making all the important decisions for the child as well as where the child will live.
If a parent disagrees with the courts and feels that sole custody to one parent is not in the best interests of the child, they can petition the court to review the ruling. Since custody rulings are not a permanent situation, the courts can be petitioned at any time by either parent. Having the courts reverse this ruling can be difficult unless there are important factors that could act against the child’s best interest such as a major change in living conditions or some sort of illegal activity.
Most parents agree about the custody, child support, and visitation issues relating to their children. Joint custody arrangements have become commonplace and in some states the “norm” in determining the care, custody and support of children. If the parents are unable to come to an arrangement, a judge will ultimately decide these issues for the parents. Children who are at least 14 years of age may choose to live with a parent provided the parent is not considered ‘unfit’ to care for the child.
Georgia, like all other states, has guidelines for determining the amount of child support to be paid. The guideline amount is presumed to arrive at an amount of support that is in the child’s best interest. If the parents are unable to agree to an amount of child support, the court will determine the amount of support based on the Child Support Guidelines.
A determination as to who is going to provide medical health care insurance for the children and how any uninsured medical expenses shall be paid between the parties is typically part of the parties’ marital settlement agreement during the divorce process. If medical insurance is available through a parent’s employment, they are required to cover their children through the plan.
As in any other state, orders providing for the support and custody of children is subject to modification after the divorce if their is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties i.e. an increase or decrease in income or a change in the living arrangements of the children.
Have you and your former spouse created a plan that serves the child’s best interest?
Have both parties agreed on the schedule for when the child will be with either parent?
Have you and your former spouse worked out who will be the emergency contact for the child in regards to school, day care or other places and institutions that may have the child during the parent’s absence?
Have these places been informed of changes in the family status and do they know who is authorized to pick up, drop off or communicate with the child?
Have you and your spouse worked out arrangements for holidays?
What about the grandparents and relatives?
How do I get sole custody of my child?