When couples divorce, they must make many important decisions and resolve critical matters. Few issues may bear greater significance than the subject of child custody.

If you live in Alpharetta or the city’s neighboring suburbs and are concerned about the custody of your child/children, a child custody lawyer can provide valuable advice. An attorney who understands the highly personal nature of these concerns can answer your questions and address your concerns.

How is Child Custody Determined?

Georgia courts will look at what is in the best interest of the children when determining who gets custody. One particular factor they consider is whether the parent seeking primary custody is going to be able to facilitate a relationship between the children and the other parent. However, there are many other factors that are unique to each individual family.

In accordance with state law, an Alpharetta family court may award sole custody to one former spouse or joint custody to both ex-partners. In addition, custody can be categorized as physical custody, which refers to where the child lives, and legal custody, which enables parents to render important life decisions pertaining to the minors in question such as decisions regarding education, medical issues, the religious faith the children will be raised in, and travel.

Moreover, minor children 14-years-of-age and older may have the liberty to choose which parent they would like to live with. However, a court may decide against the child’s wishes if the legal body determines that awarding the other parent custody would be in line with the child’s best interests.

Factors that May Impact these Decisions

In addition to a child’s personal views, a court may consider several other factors including:

  • The age of the children in question
  • Which parent is the better choice to provide basic primary care
  • Each parent’s criminal record
  • The mental health of both parents
  • Drug or alcohol abuse by either parent
  • Each spouse’s financial and employment stability
  • The home environment provided by each parent

A person’s individual circumstances may bring additional factors into consideration. An Alpharetta parenting plan attorney can help determine whether other issues may be worthy of debate.

Is There an Age Where Children Can Choose Where They Want to Live?

There is a common misconception that children at a certain age can choose where they want to live. That is not necessarily true. Here in Georgia, a child who is age 14 or older may sign an affidavit of election choosing to live with one parent over the other, or jointly with both parents. Family law states that an affidavit is a presumption that it is in the child’s best interest, and presumptions can be overcome with sufficient evidence. It is important to talk to an experienced attorney to ensure a child’s affidavit election is not overcome.

Resolving Child Custody Issues in Alpharetta

Sometimes, spouses draft pre and postnuptial contracts before or after they are officially married. These legally-binding documents enable spouses to set forth guidelines regarding how specific aspects of their divorce should occur. Certain contracts may contain parenting plans, which could offer recommendations as to how to handle specific child-related issues such as:

  • The type of schooling the child/children should receive
  • Which parent will provide certain necessities such as medical care
  • The financial responsibilities each parent will have as their child/children age
  • How visitation rights will be governed for the parent not awarded physical custody

It is important to note, however, that while parenting plans may be a useful guide and offer a valuable tool in preventing spousal conflict in child custody issues, such blueprints may not always be the final say. An Alpharetta Family Court may determine all final child custody decisions and do so with the children’s best interests at heart.

What Does it Take to Terminate Parental Rights?

Terminating parental rights is a serious action. It is not done easily, nor is the decision taken lightly because it takes away both the rights and the responsibilities for the child from a parent. There are four major ways to terminate someone’s parental rights:

  • Adoption;
  • Physical or financial abandonment for a period of over one year;
  • A murder conviction of the other parent; and
  • A finding of parental misconduct.

All four of these scenarios are typically handled through the juvenile family court and require the help of an Alpharetta child custody attorney. Simply because somebody wants to walk away from a child does not mean that they can voluntarily terminate their rights and responsibilities towards that child.

What Rights Do Fathers Have When It Comes to Child Custody?

Our team often gets asked about fathers’ rights and gaining custody of their children. Fathers have equal rights when it comes to child custody. This includes both legal and physical custody. Legal custody includes final decision-making power in certain areas. Physical custody refers to who the children are going to be living with, either primarily or jointly.

Why Contact a Lawyer?

Child custody may become an emotional, if not contentious issue between parting spouses. The prospect of no longer living with children or potentially losing the close-knit relationship a parent has with their kids may lead to certain parents making snap, emotionally-charged actions that could prove detrimental to all concerned parties.

An Alpharetta attorney can help parents avoid that pitfall by reviewing the case and helping them formulate rational, unemotional strategies designed to increase the chances of finding the best child custody arrangement possible. One way a lawyer can help accomplish this task is by highlighting why a parent should remain an integral part of their child’s life.

Consult with an Alpharetta Child Custody Attorney Today

There are many important issues parting spouses must resolve. That said, child custody may be one of the most critical. The decisions may have a significant impact upon both the former spouses and their child’s life.

A compassionate child custody lawyer in the Alpharetta area understands the significance of these proceedings and can help create a plan that will consider the best interests of the children and parents. Call today to learn more.

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