Child custody cases are sadly common across the state of Georgia. With a little bit of flexibility and creativity, however, they can be made less burdensome for the families involved. Though people commonly imagine divorce proceedings when they think of child custody, a child custody case can be brought completely independently of a divorce proceeding. This is what happens when the parents were never married, but are now disputing the custody of their mutual children. In such a case, an experienced Georgia child custody attorney can help you negotiate or litigate your case in order to protect your children.
How a Child Custody Case is Decided
When two parents have a dispute over the custody arrangements for their child or children, either parent may file a custody action with the family court. After the case is heard, the judge is authorized to grant sole custody to either parent, joint custody to both parents, joint physical custody, or joint legal custody. In making these determinations, O.C.G.A. §19-9-3 directs judges to consider all circumstances relevant to the case to determine only what is in the best interest of the child. In making such determinations, the judge may consider:
(A) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;
(B) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and stepsiblings and the residence of such other children;
(C) The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child;
(D) Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;
(E) The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent;
(F) The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;
(G) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
(H) The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child;
(I) The mental and physical health of each parent;
(J) Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
(K) Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;
(L) The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;
(M) Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;
(N) The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child;
(O) Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;
(P) Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent; and
(Q) Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent.
The Right Child Custody Attorney for You
Family matters are tense, and the stakes are high. Don’t leave the fate of your children to chance. Contact an experienced Georgia family law attorney to ensure that your rights – and those of your children – are protected as much as possible. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Suwanee, Johns Creek, Cumming, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, Dawsonville, Dahlonega, Lumpkin County, or Dawson County child custody lawyer, please call us today or contact us online.