Determining child custody in Alpharetta can be a complicated process. As it is necessary to examine what the best interests of the children are, it is also a vital process.
If the original agreement no longer meets a family’s needs, there is also a process of determining modifications. Regardless of whether you are working towards an agreement or seeking to modify an existing arrangement, a dedicated team of child custody lawyers can help guide you through the process.
In Alpharetta, child custody is determined based on the standard of the best interest of the child. This is intended to be very broad and to give the judge a great deal of discretion in deciding what is in the child’s best interest.
Alpharetta child custody lawyers could help ease the process of determining the best interests of the child by developing a strategy to build a case for custody. A reliable attorney would also have a network of professionals, such as a child therapist or a forensic psychologist who could get involved in the case, address any issues that are going on, and testify, if needed. Essentially, child custody is determined based on the judge’s understanding of what situation would be best for the child’s wellbeing and an attorney can help create a picture that displays what that would be.
There are two types of custody in Alpharetta. The first is legal custody which is who makes decisions regarding the children. The vast majority of the time, parents have joint legal custody and could be equally involved in making decisions regarding their children. The court can also determine who has final decision-making authority if the parents could not agree on a big issue, such as medical care or an educational matter, but both parents generally can be involved in important decisions.
The second is physical custody which refers to the home in which the children primarily reside. The children live with the parent with primary physical custody most of the time. However, there are often equal custody arrangements in which parents split physical custody evenly.
Once custody is determined, modifications could be made under certain circumstances. In Georgia, to modify custody after an order is in place, the party wishing to make a change must be able to show that there was a material change in circumstance.
If there are problems that existed before the order and the parent knew about them, it is not a change in circumstance. There has to be a change since the time of the order and that change has to affect the well-being of the children. If the party requesting the change can prove both of those factors, they may be granted a modification.
As defined by Alpharetta law, what qualifies as a material change is very fact-specific and the judge has a lot of discretion in determining whether a change took place. However, there are typical examples of material changes that may result in modifications.
The first is a parent moving far enough away that the current parenting schedule no longer works. In these situations, a parent would need a modification to get a more workable parenting plan or potentially contest the child moving to a different state.
The second common material change is a custody election. At the age of 14, a child could decide to live with a parent. This is considered a material change and may result in an official change to the original order.
Determining child custody is a crucial part of Alpharetta divorce cases. Generally, these decisions are based on the best interests of the child. However, what is in the best interests of the child when the order is created may shift over time. When this is the case, reassessing the original arrangement becomes necessary. This makes it essential to work with an experienced attorney who understands the process. To discuss your situation, call today.