Child Custody
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.

Learning about Child Custody in Georgia

Learning about Child Custody in Georgia

cobb county child custody lawyer

Because of the intricacies of Georgia state law, whether you’re seeking sole custody of your child or you’ve agreed to share custody with your former partner, you should consider speaking with a Cobb County 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:

At the moment I’m a noncustodial parent, but I’d like to get custody of my son. How do I do that?

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.

Will a judge award grandparents custody or visitation rights?

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.

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?

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 state law permits temporary changes to parenting plans for military children, you should consult a lawyer to understand how you may modify your plan and who you can designate to care for your child.

Source: Official Code of Georgia. This information was prepared as a public service of the State of Georgia to provide general information, not to advise on any specific legal problem. It is not, and cannot be construed to be, legal advice.

Marietta Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Cobb County Divorcing Parents Seminar in 2014

Marietta Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Cobb County Divorcing Parents Seminar in 2014

As a Marietta divorce lawyer and Cobb County child custody attorney, I inform all clients in divorce cases and other family law cases involving parents of minor children in Cobb County that they must attend a court-mandated seminar for divorcing parents. The following is a summary of the seminar and dates for it in Cobb County in 2014.

Because of the extremely emotional nature of divorce and its impact on children, the Cobb County Superior Court Judges enacted a local rule of court mandating divorcing parents of children under the age of 18 to attend a four hour educational seminar entitled “Helping Children Cope With Divorce: A Seminar for Divorcing Parents.” The purpose of the seminar is to provide parents with information on topics including the divorce process and how it impacts children, developmental stages of children, communication skills, identifying when a child may need help, and realistic expectations about step families.

The course is conducted by professional counselors who can help the parents identify and respond to the best interest of their children. The class is offered three times each month (see the online registration form for a schedule) at a cost of $30.00 per participant. Evaluations of this seminar have consistently shown that at least 94% of past participants felt that the course was helpful to them during the divorce process.

Please do not bring children to the workshop. They will not be allowed into the classroom and child care is not provided.

For further information, please call the ADR office at (770) 528-1812.

You will complete the seminar by attending ONE Thursday morning seminar OR by attendingTWO Monday evening seminars.

* Denotes change in regular schedules

2013 Schedule 
 Thursday Morning Classes
8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m
 Monday Evening Classes
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
November 7th or 21st
December 5th or 19th
November 11th and 18th
December 9th and 16th

* Denotes change in regular schedules

2014 Schedule 
   
 Thursday Morning Classes
8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m
             Monday Evening Classes
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
*January 9th or 16th
February 6th or 20th
March 6th or 20th
April 3rd or 17th
May 1st or 15th
June 5th or 19th
July 3rd or 17th
August 7th or 21st
September 4th or 18th
October 2nd or 16th
November 6th or 20th
December 4th or 18th
*January 13th and 27th
February 10th and 17th
March 10th and 17th
April 14th and 21st
May 12th and 19th
June 9th and 16th
July 14th and  21st
August 11th and 18th
September 8th and 15th
October 13th and 20th
November 10th and 17th
December 8th and 15th

* Denotes change in regular schedules

Location:

The location for all classes will be:

Cobb County Superior Court South Building
(Building “D” 3rd Floor, Courtroom O) 
30 Waddell Street
Marietta, GA 30090-9642

Driving Directions

Marietta Square Map

SOURCE: Superior Court of Cobb County

 

 

 

Children of Divorce Struggle More With Math and Social Skills

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A new study confirms the well known fact that divorce can be hard on kids in many ways: socially, academically, and emotionally.

According to new research published Thursday in the American Sociological Review. children whose parents divorce perform worse in math and have poorer social skills, and they struggle more with anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and poor self-esteem than their peers whose parents are not divorced. They are also more likely to have trouble making friends and maintaining those friendships, expressing emotions positively, and getting along with other kids who are different from them.

The study examined data from a study of children who entered kindergarten in 1998 through the time those students were in fifth grade, and focused specifically on 142 children in homes where the parents had separated during the time the children were between the first and third grades.

In mathematics performance, children from divorced homes were 12% less advanced than children from intact homes. Interestingly, the same result was not found for reading scores.

Hyun Sik Kim, the study's author and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said one of the conclusions that can be drawn from the study is that it is important to intervene early on for a child whose parents are going through a divorce.

The study also suggested that the primary factor that determines how a child will be affected by a divorce is the level of conflict in the home. Some children whose parents were going through an amicable divorce did not show extraordinary signs of struggle, but some children in homes with parents who were unhappily married performed at the same level as those from divorced homes.

It seems indisputable that divorce can be difficult on children. Ideally, all children would grow up in stable homes with loving parents who remain together. But even where divorce is inevitable, much can be done to make that transition easier on the children.

Source: TIME, "Children of Divorce Struggle More With Math and Social Skills," Bonnie Rochman, 2 Jun 2011.

Modification of Custody or Visitation in a Georgia Divorce

These frequently asked questions explain your options for changing an established custody or visitation agreement.

Under what circumstances can custody and visitation orders be changed within the state where they were obtained?

After a final decree of divorce or other order establishing custody and visitation (such as a paternity decree) is filed with a court, parents may agree to modify the custody or visitation terms. This modified agreement (also called a "stipulated modification") may be made without court approval. If one parent later reneges on the agreement, however, the other person may not be able to enforce it unless the court has approved the modification. Thus, it is generally advisable to obtain a court’s blessing before relying on such agreements. Courts usually approve modification agreements unless it appears that they are not in the best interests of the child.

If a parent wants to change an existing court order and the other parent won’t agree to the change, he or she must file a motion (a written request) asking the court that issued the order to modify it. Usually, courts will modify an existing order only if the parent asking for the change can show a "substantial change in circumstances." This requirement encourages stability of arrangements and helps prevent the court from becoming overburdened with frequent and repetitive modification requests.

What qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances?

Here are some examples:

Geographic move. If a custodial parent makes a significant move, or the move will seriously disrupt the stability of the child’s life, the move may constitute a changed circumstance that justifies the court’s modification of a custody or visitation order. Some courts switch custody from one parent to the other, although the increasingly common approach is to ask the parents to work out a plan under which both parents may continue to have significant contacts with their children. If no agreement is reached, courts in some states will permit the move unless it is shown that the child will be adversely affected. In other states, courts will carefully examine the best interests of the child and make a decision about which parent should have custody.

Change in lifestyle. Changes in custody or visitation orders may be obtained if substantial changes in a parent’s lifestyle threatens or harms the child. If, for example, a custodial parent begins working at night and leaving a nine-year-old child alone, the other parent may request a change in custody. Similarly, if a noncustodial parent begins drinking heavily or taking drugs, the custodial parent may file a request for modification of the visitation order (asking, for example, that visits occur when the parent is sober, or in the presence of another adult). What constitutes a lifestyle sufficiently detrimental to warrant a change in custody or visitation rights varies tremendously depending on the state and the particular judge deciding the case.

SOURCE: Georgia Divorce Online

Joint or Sole Custody?

For the sake of the children, the goals of divorcing parents should be the same: involvement of both parents in the lives of the children and mitigation of conflict between the parents. These two factors should dominate all others when thinking about custody.

A joint custody solution gives a psychological boost to the parent who would otherwise be the noncustodial parent. But, even in a sole-custody situation, generous time-sharing (combined with open communication between parents) can create an environment where a noncustodial parent is significantly involved in the children’s lives.

Is joint custody right for you? That depends a great deal on the ability of you and your spouse to get along. If you are to share decision-making, you must be able to sit down with your former spouse in a noncombative atmosphere and make decisions together. Shared values and parenting styles make this custody style more viable.

Here’s what psychologists have found after long-term studies of families in joint custody and sole custody arrangements:

  • Joint custody is a viable option only if the parents have an amicable relationship with each other, communicate well, and understand the nuances of their kid’s day-to-day routines. Parents in this situation feel more involved in their children’s lives than the noncustodial parent in the sole custody arrangement. On the other hand, in a family where one parent says “black” and the other parent says “white,” the children are better off with a sole custody arrangement to reduce the possibility that their parents will fight over every decision that must be made on their behalf.

  • For parents not on friendly terms, joint legal custody, that is to say, joint decision-making, means more room for disagreement and continuation of conflict. These parents are more likely to return to court than parents who have one decision-maker (sole custody).

  • If you’re able to communicate about the kids, are willing to live in close proximity to your ex, and have the time and resources to share “possession and access” (as they say in Texas) or “physical custody” (as it’s more commonly called), then it can be a great thing for everyone. But generally, only children who tend to be easy-going by nature can adapt well to this kind of living arrangement. Children who do poorly with constant change, have difficulty adjusting to new situations, and seem to need a great deal of stability and security in their lives don’t do well with joint physical custody.

In short, if you can agree to most of the following statements, joint custody could work for your family:

  • I will communicate openly with my ex-spouse regarding the children’s needs and activities.

  • I can be flexible in working with my ex-spouse and put my children’s needs first.

  • I will never bad-mouth my ex-spouse in front of my children. On the contrary, I will show nothing but respect for my children’s other parent.

  • I will respect my ex-spouse’s right to have his or her own house rules and not undermine them.

Be honest with yourself. If your feelings don’t allow you to accept these guidelines, then get some counseling. If that doesn’t work, then joint custody is not a good choice for your family.

SOURCE: FamilyEducation.com