Child Custody Hearing in Georgia
If you are scheduled to have a child custody hearing, Georgia government sites recommend that your first step in protecting your rights prior to attending a child custody hearing should be (we’re not making this up) – – hire a Georgia attorney.
Here are the basics of what you can expect to happen.
First, the hearing usually benefits from those who are able to agree in advance on some of the basic tenets of the child’s custody. For example, it helps if you already know which parent will be the custodial parent – – or if the custody will be shared. Who will be responsible for transporting or exchanging the child to the other parent for a visit, where and how often does that happen? What are the arrangements for holidays or non-school days?
And if you can’t agree? The judge may ask each parent to submit a plan for proposed parenting. After review of the proposals, the judge will then decide the details of the custody terms. Topics the judge will consider include but are not limited to: love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child as well as the child’s bond with siblings; the parent’s ability to provide basic care, safety, and involvement in the child’s life, the stability of the home environment as well as the parent’s stability, and mental or physical limitations of a parent. We will assist you in developing your presentation of information.
If one parent receives full custody, the other parent no longer has any legal voice on behalf of the child. A non-custodial parent might receive visitation rights from the court and may have responsibility for financial involvement, but has no presumed priority in the religious or medical or educational aspects of the child’s life.
With joint custody, both parents might be entitled to not only legal custody but physical custody as well. Both parents might have input into decisions about the child’s education or religious training. Both parents might be involved in medical decisions and provide financially to whatever degree they’ve agreed in court. And with joint custody there is usually a presumption of the right to visitation time (excepting limiting factors) with the child regardless of which parent might be the primary care giver.
Expect the judge in a Georgia child custody hearing to look after the interests of the child(ren) foremost. They will determine details such as how a non-custodial parent will contact the child when the child is in the other parent’s physical custody. The wellbeing of the child is even a greater priority than the wellbeing of either parent in this matter. Only material changes in the family structure are possible reasons to change the initial custody granted by the court, so it’s important to get it right the first time. An attorney is experienced in diffusing possible differences in parental priorities to arrive at a satisfactory agreement while protecting your rights.