Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and complex, often leaving parents feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about their rights and responsibilities. As a family law attorney practicing in the state of Georgia, I understand the challenges families face when dealing with child custody, visitation, and child support matters.
Below, learn more about the process of child custody, visitation and child support as well as insights to help parents navigate the often complicated details of these agreements.
Child Custody in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, child custody decisions are made with the best interests of the child in mind. Even if parents agree, the judge looks into the best interest and must approve custody, visitation, and child support. The court considers various factors, including the parents’ financial situations, the child’s relationship with each parent, the physical and mental health of each parent, the child’s needs and preferences (if age-appropriate), and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and nurturing environment.
Custody can be divided into legal custody, which involves decision-making authority, and physical custody, which pertains to where the child lives.
Types of Custody Arrangements
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, both parents generally shareLegal Custody. This basically means both parents have the rights to school and medical information.
A court will also decide Physical Custody, that is which parent has Primary Physical Custody of the children and which has Secondary Physical Custody of a child. In some cases with extenuating circumstances, a court may award a parent Sole Physical Custody.
Many parents desire Joint Physical Custody of the children, meaning each parent has equal time. Not all judges approve that sort of arrangement.
In any event, the Non-Custodial Parent is generally awarded visitation. Visitation schedules can be flexible and tailored to fit the child’s needs and the parents’ availability. However, if there are concerns about the child’s safety or well-being, the court may impose supervised visitation, ensuring that the child is always in a protected environment.
How is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is important to ensure the child’s financial well-being after separation or divorce. Georgia follows specific guidelines to calculate child support payments. The court considers factors such as each parent’s income, the child’s financial needs, medical expenses, and childcare costs. The non-custodial parent usually pays child support to the custodial parent to contribute to the child’s basic needs.
Modifications and Enforcement
As life situations change, sometimes custody, visitation, or child support arrangements must be modified to reflect new circumstances. In these situations, a family law attorney can assist in petitioning the court for modifications due to job changes, relocations, or significant changes in the child’s needs. Additionally, if one parent fails to comply with custody, visitation, or child support orders, legal steps can be taken to enforce these arrangements.
Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Navigating child custody, visitation, and child support battles can be emotionally exhausting for all parties involved. Fortunately, Georgia encourages and generally requires mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve conflicts outside of the courtroom. Mediation can offer a more amicable approach, allowing parents to reach mutually agreeable solutions prioritizing the child’s best interests.
The Role of a Family Law Attorney
Child custody, visitation, and child support proceedings in Georgia involve intricate legal processes that require careful consideration and professional guidance. Parents can navigate the path ahead with more clarity and confidence by working with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can significantly ease the complexities of these matters.
The team of Debranski & Associates can work with parents to provide legal advice, guide them through the legal process, and advocate for their rights in court. Reach out to schedule a consultation, and we can assist you in determining how best to proceed.