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Georgia Child Custody Questions

Georgia Child Custody Questions

Cumming Georgia Child Custody Attorneys - OfficeIn Georgia, divorce can be a very difficult process, especially if there are children and child custody issues involved.  Apart from having to separate marriage property, the parents also need to figure out who will get custody of the children, what the visitation plan is going to be and decide the amount of spousal support / alimony (if any) and child support. In regards to child custody and child support, here are some questions and answers that should help clear up some common misconceptions about child custody and child support.

Is shared custody a possibility between parents?

There such things as joint and sole custody.  Joint custody can be legal or physical, or sometimes both.  With joint legal custody both of the parents have the ability to make decisions in regards to their child’s well-being such as education, medical care, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities.  Although one parent may have final decision making power that does not mean that they solely can make decisions, the other parent must be consulted before the decision can be made.  Joint physical custody is where the both of the parents share equal or nearly equal parenting time.  One parent will be the primary custodial parent and the other the secondary custodial parent.  Sole custody means that only one of the parents has both legal and physical custody of the child while the other has no legal or custody rights.

What is legal and physical custody?

Legal custody is the right to make decisions in regards to child’s well-being and have access to the child’s medical and educational records.  In case the parent’s cannot reach an agreement about what to do – one of the parents will usually have final decision-making authority.  The parent that is able to make a final decision is also usually the parent that also has primary physical custody (more than half of the custody time).  Physical custody is where the children will live.  Physical custody is based on many factors.  However, one of the biggest influences on the court’s decision regarding primary physical custody is who the children’s primary caregiver was while the parents were married.

If my spouse is the one with sole custody does that mean I am no longer responsible?

No, just because one of the parents got sole custody does not mean that the other parent is free from their obligations such as child support payments.  In addition, you cannot just sign away your financial obligations to your minor child.  Therefore, it is best to deal with the issue of custody and child support as a priority.  Speaking with an experienced Cumming Georgia divorce and family law attorney is highly recommended.

If the parents are sharing custody, does that mean no one pays child support?

One of the parents might still be required to pay child support even if they have shared custody. The reason is because child support is based on parents’ income, so the parent that earns more may be the one to pay child support. An exception might be if both of the parents make around the same income and share equal parenting time.

If the other parent does not pay their court ordered child support can I prevent them from seeing the child?

No, it is important to know that child support and visiting rights are two very different things.  The court will not condone the practice of one parent denying the other parent his or her visitation rights due to missed or late child support payments.  The court offers other remedies, such as the filing of a contempt citation for missed child support payments.

Is my child, who is 13, allowed to choose what parent they want to live with?

A child’s selection of the parent they want to live with will be valid if they are at least fourteen (14) years old – and the is done through an ‘election of custody’ signed by the child.  However, even if an ‘election of custody’ is signed by the child – the court still has the final say on who will get primary custody after reviewing what is in  the child’s best interest.  However, in Cumming and other Georgia the court will usually accept the child’s choice, especially if the case is uncontested.  See O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3.

Do the children’s grandparents have custody rights?

Not in the state of Georgia.  However, the grandparents may be eligible to receive custody if both of the parents become unable to care for the child or the pass away and the next person eligible (if there is someone) to take care of the children is unable to.

Will the mother always get custody?

Some of Georgia’s court may be more inclined to favor the mother because mothers are often seen as caregivers – and will usually have been the primary caregiver of the children.  However, to decide who will get custody, the court will consider all the evidence presented to determine which parent having primary physical custody is in the child’s best interest.

Is my child required to attend court?

Unless it is stated that the testimony of the child is required, it is very rare that the child needs to make an appearance.  Should the child need to testify, it is often suggested that the child have a Guardian ad Litem to be the representative of the child.  In Cumming and other Georgia divorce and family law courts, the judges usually discourage the parties from trying to have children testify in cases.

If I am the noncustodial parent, will it ever be possible for me to get custody of my child?

Yes, but it has to be proven that the parent that has current custody is no longer able to provide for the child’s well-being or that the child’s well-being would be better enhanced by making modifications to the original custody decision.  This is done through the filing of a petition to modify child custody – which will usually also include a modification of child support.  There is no time limit on when the first petition modification by either party can be filed, but the person that files for a modification must be able to prove that a modification is necessary.

How to get more information regarding child custody in Cumming Georgia

If you are facing a child custody issue and need legal assistance from an experienced Cumming Georgia divorce and family law attorney, call us at 770-609-1247 to speak with one of our attorneys.  Contact Information >>>

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