CHAPTER 9 CHILD CUSTODY PROCEEDINGS
19-9-1. Custody of children; how determined; discretion of court; right of child 14 or over to select custodial parent; consideration of child’s educational needs; when visitation rights may be reviewed; notification of change in residence; application of Article 3 of this chapter.
(a)(1) In all cases in which a divorce is granted, the party not in default shall be entitled to the custody of the minor children of the marriage. However, in all cases in which a divorce is granted, an application for divorce is pending, or a change in custody of a minor child is sought, the court, in the exercise of a sound discretion, may look into all the circumstances of the parties, including improvement of the health of a party seeking a change in custody provisions, and, after hearing both parties, may make a different disposition of the children, placing them, if necessary, in possession of guardians appointed by the judge of the probate court.
(2) In addition to other factors that a court may consider in a proceeding in which the custody of a child or visitation by a parent is at issue and in which the court has made a finding of family violence:
(A) The court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of family violence;
(B) The court shall consider the perpetrator’s history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault to another person;
(C) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of domestic violence by the other parent, such absence or relocation for a reasonable period of time in the circumstances shall not be deemed an abandonment of the child or children for the purposes of custody determination; and
(D) The court shall not refuse to consider relevant or otherwise admissible evidence of acts of family violence merely because there has been no previous finding of family violence. The court may, in addition to other appropriate actions, order supervised visitation pursuant to Code Section 19-9-7.
WHAT IS PATERNITY?
Paternity means fatherhood, the quality or state of being a father.
WHAT IS A PATERNITY TEST?
A Paternity Test is a DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) or genetic test that determines whether a given man could be the biological father of a child.
ON WHAT GROUNDS CAN I RECEIVE A PATERNITY TEST?
Paternity test are not just used to determine whether an individual is the biological father of a child. A Paternity test is useful in many situations, including:
- Assisting women seeking child support from a man who denies he is a child s biological father.
- Helping men attempting to win custody or visitation rights.
- Providing peace of mind for men wishing to confirm paternity.
- Establishing proof of heritage for an adopted child seeking their biological parents.
- Determining grand parentage, inheritance rights, insurance claims or Social Security benefits.
- Assisting in immigration cases on the grounds an individual is a biological relative of a citizen.
- Establishing Native American Tribal Rights.
- Determining rightful heirs by DNA profiling for estate purpose.
- Providing conclusive evidence of sisterhood or brotherhood for siblings separated for long periods of time.
WHAT IS A "LEGITIMATION"?
Legitimation is a legal action which is the only way, other than by marrying the mother of a child, that the biological father of a child born in the State of Georgia may establish legal rights to his child.
WHO MAY FILE FOR LEGITIMATION?
Only the biological father of a child may file a petition seeking to legitimate his child.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL EFFECT OF A LEGITIMATION?
An order of legitimation creates a father and child relationship legally between the petitioner and his child. An order of legitimation establishes that the child may inherit from his legal father and vice versa. An order of legitimation allows the legal father to be listed on the child’s birth certificate as such. An order of legitimation is the only way that the father of a child born out of wedlock can be recognized as the legal father of a child and therefore can petition for custody and/or visitation with this child.
If you are already listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father, but you and the child’s mother were not married to each other, you must still file a petition with the court to legitimate your child.
Effective July 1, 2005, requests for custody and/or visitation may be included in your petition for legitimation.
WHAT IS A COMMON LAW MARRIAGE?
A Common Law Marriage simply means that the marriage was established without benefit of a license and ceremony.
HOW ARE COMMON LAW MARRIAGES ESTABLISHED?
Although the definition may vary from state to state, the common features of a common law marriage are:
- Cohabitation – the parties lived together.
- Consent – the parties intended to hold themselves out as husband and wife.
- Holding out- the parties "held themselves out" to the world as husband and wife (i.e. The parties spoke of each other as "my husband" or "my wife").
- Neither party was married to someone else.
DO WE HAVE TO LIVE TOGETHER FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME TO BE "COMMON LAW MARRIED"?
In most states that recognize common law marriages, there are no time requirements for living together.
In most states that recognize common law marriages, there are no time requirements for living together. The controlling issue is not time together, but the intentions of the parties.
A civil court case begins with filing a legal action at the office of Clerk of the Court.
Filing means giving legal papers to the Clerk of the Court. The papers become a part of the case.
People usually get a lawyer to do their court work for them. However, each one of us has the right to do our own court work. Only a lawyer is allowed to represent (do court work for) others. Doing your own court work is called pro se (pronounced: pro say) representation.
Taking a problem to court begins with writing a court paper called a complaint or petition.
The complaint/petition tells the court about your case. The complaint usually tells:
1. Who the person is that you are going to court against. This person is called the defendant or respondent;
2. What the defendant/respondent did that brings you to court with a legal action;
3. The law that gives you a right to take legal action against the defendant/respondent;
4. What you want the court to do. This is usually called the prayer or request for relief.
The following steps are what may happen in a court case: