Learning about Child Custody in Georgia

Learning about Child Custody in Georgia

Child Custody Attorneys in Georgia

Because of the intricacies of state law, whether you’re seeking sole custody of your child or you’ve agreed to share child custody in Georgia with your former partner, you should consider speaking with a family law attorney prior to your child custody hearing.

What You Should Know:
  • Before arriving at your child custody hearing, you and your former partner should craft a parenting plan that outlines a number of details including:
    • a parenting time schedule, with an outline making clear who the child will spend time with for each day of the year
    • an agreement about how the child will spend holidays and vacations
    • a proposal for transportation arrangements and drop-off points when a child leaves one parent to visit the other
    • an agreement about how a parent may contact a child when that child is in the other parent’s care.
  • During the initial custody proceedings, the judge will act with your child’s best interests in mind, listening to the points made by both you and your former partner and considering carefully your child’s health, safety and comfort. After the judge awards custody, this decision cannot be amended unless there’s a significant change in family circumstance.
  • The judge may opt to grant either sole custody or joint custody. In the first of these custody types, the judge may approve visitation rights for the noncustodial parent, but otherwise, the noncustodial parent cannot exercise legal authority on the child’s behalf. In the second of these custody types, the parents may share in their child’s legal and physical custody, making decisions together about their child’s education, medical care and religious upbringing and each enjoying roughly equal parenting time.
  • When your child turns 14, she/he may choose who she/he wants to live with, and she/he may request a change in custody once every two years thereafter.
  • At least 30 days before a move, a custodial parent must write a letter to inform a noncustodial parent or other family member with visitation rights of a new address.
  • Once every two years the family law court may review and modify parent visitation rights, although custody rights may only be reviewed and modified if there’s a significant change in family circumstance.
FAQs:
Q: At the moment I’m a noncustodial parent, but I’d like to get custody of my son. How do I do that?

A: You’ll need to visit the Superior Court in the custodial parent’s county of residence and fill out a petition for change of custody. At the hearing you’ll need to offer proof that you’ve recently noticed a material change in family circumstance that directly affects your son’s interest and well-being. Minor changes only in living condition will not persuade a judge to approve a new custody decision.

Q: Will a judge award grandparents custody or visitation rights?

A: Although judges may award grandparents these rights, family law courts consider the rights of natural parents first. When either or both the mother and father are competent and willing to care for the child, the judge will grant custody preferentially to that natural parent.

Q: I’m a military parent exercising joint custody of my daughter, and I’ve just found that I’ll be deployed. Before I leave, what do I need to do?

A: Within two weeks of learning of your deployment, you’ll need to send a written notice to your former partner explaining how your service will affect your parenting time. If you’ve received notice in less than two weeks before deployment, you must send that written notice immediately. Because Georgia child custody law permits temporary changes to parenting plans for military children, you should consult a child custody lawyer to understand how you may modify your plan and who you can designate to care for your child.

State Bar Family Law Section to Launch Helpline for Child Support Worksheets

Help for un-represented low and moderate-income Georgians who need help with the state’s mandated Child Support Worksheets is now available. The Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia has launched its Child Support Worksheet Helpline, a free service to provide one-time assistance for producing Child Support Worksheets for filing in the state’s superior and juvenile courts.

Georgia’s Child Support Worksheets provide the framework for determining the appropriate amount of child support under Georgia law. The child support calculator is used to enter the financial information of both parents to calculate the appropriate amount of child support according to Georgia’s statutory Child Support Guidelines.

Volunteer lawyers from the State Bar of Georgia Family Law Section will assist callers with the calculator and preparing the required Child Support Worksheets. Un-represented litigants needing help with the child support calculator can call (404) 526-8609. A volunteer lawyer will then work with the caller to prepare Child Support Worksheets for his or her case. The Child Support Worksheets will be emailed or mailed to the caller.

The Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia has over 1500 members and seeks to educate its members through continuing education and monitoring and reporting on legislation. The Child Support Helpline is an opportunity for the Section members to give back to Georgians in need of legal services who cannot afford it.

Georgia Legal Services Program, which serves 154 mostly rural counties outside metro Atlanta, is partnering with the Section to launch the pilot project. GLSP receives many calls daily from people looking for legal help in connection with child support. The legal aid program will refer many of those callers to the new Child Support Helpline. “We’re very grateful to the Family Law Section for this innovative service. There’s a great demand for basic information about child support and for help with child support calculations,” says Mike Monahan, the director of the Pro Bono Project of the State Bar.

Rebecca Crumrine Rieder, the Chairman of the Family Law Section made a pro-bono project for the Section a priority of her tenure, “the Family Law Section is excited to be offering Georgians this service. There is a need for help with child support worksheets for un-represented litigants and we are glad to marshal the Section’s vast membership and provide a resource that will benefit not only the individuals who use it but also the courts and clerks who too often have to turn people away for not having the proper documents to complete their cases.”

The State Bar of Georgia, with offices in Atlanta, Savannah and Tifton, was established in 1964 by Georgia’s Supreme Court as the successor to the voluntary Georgia Bar Association, founded in 1884. All lawyers licensed to practice in Georgia belong to the State Bar. Its more than 47,000 members work together to strengthen the constitutional promise of justice for all, promote principles of duty and public service among Georgia’s lawyers, and administer a strict code of legal ethics.

Rules of Inheritance in Georgia Probate Cases

Georgia Probate Lawyer

Heirs at Law in Georgia

The following outline is a summary of the Georgia law that determines who are heirs at law of a decedent (the person whose death without a will (intestacy)) requires the administration of his or her estate). The actual statute may be found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Section 53-2-1.

The heirs are:

  • The spouse if there are no children (and no children who died before the decedent leaving living children of their own or descendants of living children)
  • The spouse and children if there are children, and the children of any child or children who died before the decedent (as well as the deceased child’s descendants if any of the deceased child’s children also predeceased the decedent)
  • The parents if there is no spouse or children, descendants of deceased children, grandchildren, etc.
  • If no spouse, children, descendants of children, or parents survived the decedent, the brothers and sisters of the decedent and the descendants of any deceased brother or sister who predeceased the decedent
  • If none of the above were living at decedent’s death, the grandparents
  • If none of the above, uncles and aunts and descendants of any deceased uncle or aunt, but if all uncles and aunts are deceased, then first cousins share equally, rather than siblings taking their parent’s share

The more remote degrees of kinship are determined by a mathematical formula involving the relative in question and the closest common ancestor. If you have gotten this far, please consult OCGA sec. 53-2-1(b)(8). You may also need the assistance of a Georgia probate attorney. This information is also available in the form of a flow chart.

SOURCE: Athens-Clarke County.