Child Custody Lawyers in Atlanta, GA — Fighting to Protect the Parental Rights of Our Clients
Nearly all family law matters are stressful for those dealing with them. However, very few can elicit the intense emotions involved with child custody issues. Even parents who want to remain civil can have difficulty agreeing on child custody arrangements. Unfortunately, the situation can become particularly problematic when the parties involved are less focused on amicable relations. If you’re currently in a dispute with a former partner or relative regarding who has rights over your children, it’s essential to speak with a child custody lawyer in Atlanta, GA, as soon as possible.
At the Family Lawyers of Atlanta, our Georgia family law attorneys are committed to helping our clients secure the best possible outcome. We understand the difficulties you’re going through. Child custody disputes can quickly become ugly, and without a legal advocate to assist you, these cases can drag on longer than necessary and negatively affect everyone involved. Then again, perhaps you simply need help writing up an agreed-upon custody arrangement that will hold up in court. Regardless of the circumstances of your situation, our Atlanta child custody attorneys are here to help.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
What Are Legal and Physical Custody?
If you’re in a custodial dispute or simply trying to reach an agreement with your child’s other parent, you’ve likely heard about both physical and legal custody. These are two distinct types of custody arrangements. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with. A parent without physical custody will typically have visitation rights. The parent with legal custody gets to make important decisions for their child. These decisions include:
- Issues regarding the child’s education
- Religious upbringing
- Healthcare and medical care
- Extracurricular activities
The individual with primary custody gets to make important decisions for their child on their own. Primary physical custody also means a child lives with a specific guardian. In a best-case scenario, a child’s parents will be able to agree on a parenting plan. In such situations, custody is often shared between both parties. However, Georgia law still designates a primary custodial parent who has the final say regarding important decisions.
Clearly, these issues can become complex. Don’t risk your ability to make important decisions or spend invaluable time with your loved ones. Contact our child custody attorneys in Atlanta today to discuss your options and how to move forward.
Who Receives Primary Custody in Georgia Courts?
Outdated thinking dictates that a child’s mother will always get primary custody of their child. This belief is backed up by the fact that Georgia has among the lowest rates of fathers as custodial parents in America. However, do not take for granted that such a custody arrangement will be handed down by the courts. In reality, judges make these decisions based on the best interests of the children involved. Divorce lawyers often find themselves arguing in court over what qualifies as a child’s best interest.
There’s no way to predict with 100% accuracy who will receive primary custody — either legal or physical — in Georgia child custody disputes. However, the following factors are what the courts consider when making these decisions:
- Emotional ties that exist between each parent and the child
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
- The mental and physical well-being of each parent
- How willing each parent is to encourage a continued relationship with the child and their other parent
- Stability of home environments
- Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence
- The willingness of each parent to communicate and cooperate with each other
- The child’s preference (child preference is considered at age 11 and is presumptive at age 14)
A judge can make custody decisions — including the creation of parenting plans — by considering all these factors. However, the courts prefer when two parents can figure out these legal issues on their own. The law recognizes the importance of each parent’s right to spend time and make decisions for their child. That’s why a parenting plan agreed on by both parties will typically be approved as long as it’s not against the child’s best interests.
Regardless of whether you can reach such an agreement, having an Atlanta child custody attorney on your side is important. Let the dedicated legal professionals at the Family Lawyers of Atlanta assist you through this difficult process.
Can You Reach Your Own Child Custody Agreement?
As discussed above, Georgia courts prefer when parents can reach their own child custody agreement. However, there are some nuances to this fact. For instance, a couple cannot make child custody or child support decisions via a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. While maintaining the parent-child relationship is important in our state, court orders that focus on the child’s best interest are more important. Predicting what these interests will be in advance is impossible, so any provisions stipulating a custody agreement in a marital contract are void.
It’s also important to note that a judge does not have to approve an arrangement between two parents. They may believe that agreements involving parenting time, visitation, legal custody, and other issues would be detrimental to a child’s well-being. In such a situation, the courts may end up making important decisions on your behalf. This is another reason why it’s so crucial for parents to seek the help of a child custody lawyer in Atlanta. A legal professional can help you understand the law and what to expect from state courts.
Can a Child Custody Court Order Be Modified?
There are many factors that go into making child custody decisions. However, it’s rare that any of these factors are permanent. Incomes, mental health, home stability, and many other issues can change after an original custody order has been issued. Since custody issues are always made based on the child’s best interests, this means it’s possible to seek modifications when circumstances change.
In fact, the parent requesting a modification need only prove that the material conditions or circumstances of at least one parent have changed — along with the fact that these changes warrant a modification based on the child’s best interest. Modifications could include moving from a joint custody agreement to sole custody, altering primary physical custody, requiring supervised visitation, or any other change in the original custody arrangements.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a custodial or noncustodial parent. If you want to request a modification, you have the right to do so. However, having a child custody lawyer in Atlanta on your side is ideal for improving the odds of a successful request. Contact us today to learn more.
Contact Our Child Custody Lawyers in Atlanta, GA Today
Atlanta family law attorneys deal with child custody cases on a daily basis. This is unsurprising since over 24 million American children stay in one-parent households. Issues involving custody are often dealt with during a divorce, but there are also situations where two parents were never married. There are unique difficulties relative to both of these situations. However, the one thing that remains true is that an experienced legal professional can be invaluable. Whether you’re trying to establish a child custody arrangement for the first time or you’re seeking a modification, a Georgia family law firm can assist.
At the Family Lawyers of Atlanta, you’ll work with a team of dedicated legal professionals with the experience to assist in your case. We understand that your child custody case is unlike others, and that’s why we offer free consultations to help you better understand your rights and options. Don’t waste time hoping that things will “just work out.” Contact us today by calling (404) 418-7777 to schedule your free case evaluation. Our child custody lawyers in Atlanta, GA, are on standby and ready to assist.