When spouses with children file for divorce, child custody is one of the most important issues to settle. When an agreement is not possible, working with an experienced divorce lawyer in Albany is very important. Failure to do could reach to an unfavorable decision and irremediably affect the child’s life and child-parent relationships.
For those who are not sure they need legal advice, understanding the basics of Georgia child custody laws may help. We will explain the law and how courts interpret and apply it in the following lines.
Georgia Child Custody Basics or Why Work with a Divorce Attorney in Albany, GA
As in other states, when awarding child custody, Georgia courts consider the best interests of the child. However, in doing so, they still need to apply the law and consider both parents equal when proposing arrangements. Thus, theories according to which mothers always win are shallow and unfunded, based on coincidences.
Depending on the case specifics, the case may award joint or sole custody. Custody can also be legal and physical. Legal custody clarifies who has the right to make decisions regarding the child. Physical custody decides who lives with and cares for the child.
In joint custody, the parents share rights and responsibilities. They have to consult one another and make child-related decisions together. They both spend time with and care for the child. Sole custody awards decision-making and care rights and responsibilities to a single parent.
In most cases, the court will ask the parents to work together but grant final decision-making rights to only one of them. The latter will decide regarding the child’s medical care, activities, education, and religion.
The Child’s Right to Choose
In movies, children as young as five get to share their preference regarding custody. In Georgia, only children who have turned 14 have this option. However, the court may still decide against their will if they feel the child’s wish does not reflect their best interests.
Parents requesting child custody have to propose a parenting plan. This should cover where the child spends every day and with whom they should spend birthdays, vacations, etc. It should also deal with schooling, medical care, transportation arrangements, and associated costs. Albany divorce lawyers know what the court expects and can help their clients come up with a good parenting plan.
Generally, the court will try to ensure the continuity of the parent-child relationship and minimize changes in the child’s life. They will grant both parents access to records and information regarding the child. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, like cases involving:
- Domestic violence
- Parent convictions
- Mentally or physically impaired parents
- Alcohol or substance abuse
In such cases and others, the court will try to protect the child and make sure they grow in a safe and beneficial environment. Another important aspect the court will need to settle refers to the child’s financial needs.
When making custody-related decisions, Georgia courts will provide financial solutions as well. These usually come in the form of child support payment decisions. Through them, the court decides how much money a parent should contribute to their child’s upbringing.
To reach an amount, the court will take into account the parents’income, taxes, debts, pre-existing child support orders, health insurance premiums, etc. Parents wanting to know how much money they may pay or receive as child support have two options.
They can get an estimate from their Albany, GA, divorce lawyer, based on the information they provide. They can also do their own math using the online calculator made available by the Georgia Child Support Commission.
Usually, child support payments last until the child becomes of age, emancipated, or graduates secondary school. Child death or marriage justify payment interruptions as well. For parents fighting over custody and/or child support issues, working with an experienced Albany divorce attorney can be lifesaving.
Get Help with Your Child Custody Issues from One of the Best Divorce Lawyers in Albany, GA
Whether you’re going through a divorce or preparing to appeal a child custody decision, we can help. Our legal team has vast experience handling divorce and child custody cases and provides free case reviews. To find out how we can help, schedule a consultation with our divorce lawyer in Albany, GA. You can do so by phone, at (229) 351-5320, or online, by filling in our contact form.