Child custody

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"Litigation of child custody is the single most important thing I do."

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                          Tamela Adkins



Custody of your children is the sole most important issue in a domestic relations case because the judge hearing your case has almost unfettered discretion.  Most custody cases cannot be appealed.

 

Tamela Adkins is an expert in custody cases.  Since 1993, she has tried hundreds of custody cases before judges and helped thousands of clients determine a mutually satisfactory custody plan that works for both parents.

  

Georgia courts require three legal issues to be determined in custody cases:


Legal custody

Legal custody is, more often than not, joint between both parents.  This means that each parent may have access to medical records, educational records, and is entitled to know important events in the child’s life.  Joint legal custody also requires a good faith discussion between the parents before certain actions are taken on behalf of your children.


Final Decision Making: 

Georgia courts require one parent to be the “tie-breaker” on issues of education, medical, religion and extracurricular activity.  There are important long-term consequences to who has the final say, such as your ex moving out of state with your children.


Physical custody: 

This is granted to the parent a child physically lives with for the majority of the time.


 

FACTORS A JUDGE USES IN DETERMINING CUSTODY:

  • The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;
  • The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and step-siblings and the residence of such other children;
  • 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;
  • Each parent's knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child's needs;
  • 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;
  • The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • The mental and physical health of each parent;
  • Each parent's involvement, or lack thereof, in the child's educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
  • Each parent's employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;
  • The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;
  • Each parent's past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;
  • 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;
  • Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;
  • Any evidence of family violence;
  • Any evidence of  or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse;
  • Any criminal history of either parent;
  • Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent;
  • Any evidence of parental alienation by one or both of the parents;
  • The proximity between the two parents residences;
  • The proximity to either parent to the child’s school and extracurricular activities;  and
  • Sometimes, in certain circumstances, the judge will consider the child’s wishes in a custody case. customers can’t find it, it doesn’t exist.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can I obtain custody of my grandchild, niece or nephew?

A: Yes.  In certain circumstances close relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles may seek custody.


Q: Can I obtain custody of my step child?

A: Yes.  On July 1, 2019, Georgia became one of the growing number of states that allow for an “emotional caregiver” to seek custody.  The standard to seek custody under this new law is high and there are strict legal guidelines and complicated legal procedures.


Q: Can I obtain custody of my significant other’s child after we break up?

A: On July 1, 2019, Georgia became one of the growing number of states that allow for an “emotional caregiver” to seek custody. The standard to seek custody under this new law is high and there are strict legal guidelines and complicated legal procedures.


Q: What is parental alienation?

A: Parental alienation is a psychological diagnosis that involves one parent, either consciously or subconsciously, sabotaging a child’s relationship with the other parent.  Studies show that long term damage usually results if parental alienation is present in divorcing parents.


Q: What is a child advocate or guardian ad litem?

A: A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed solely to represent the children in a contested custody lawsuit. The GAL will make a written report to the court and will testify at any trial.