When parents divorce or live apart, deciding how they will divide their time with their children and who will have decision-making responsibilities can be challenging. When a child custody matter is contested, it becomes a decision for the Georgia family court system.
Child custody issues are difficult to resolve when parents do not agree. Fulton County has a multi-step process to help judges make informed decisions about these matters. One important step is a series of hearings the family court will hold to assess the parents’ ability to provide a healthy environment for their children.
It is important to present yourself at your best and be well-prepared for Alpharetta child custody hearings. Our trusted team can support, advise, and represent you throughout the process to help you meet your child custody goals.
Fulton County holds an initial hearing when the contested child custody case opens. The judge hears from both parents and their lawyers about:
The judge might order a temporary custody arrangement at the first hearing that will govern until the judge issues a final order in a few months. In most cases, the judge will ask the parents to attend mediation, take cooperative parenting classes, and complete other tasks.
The Georgia Uniform Superior Court Rule 24.9 allows the judge to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for the children while the matter is pending. The GAL’s job is to investigate the family, observe their living situations, get to know the children, and eventually make a recommendation to the judge about the custody arrangement that would be in the children’s best interests.
Once a contested custody case begins, the parties meet every month for a status conference with a court officer. These meetings give the parents the chance to update the court about any issues that have arisen regarding custody, visitation, or the children’s wellbeing. Parents can bring their attorneys to these hearings, but the hearing is more like a conference than a formal appearance before the judge.
The presiding officer will question the parents about the children’s response to the separation at these conferences. Depending on the circumstances, the officer could appoint a psychologist or a custody evaluator to assess the children and parents.
The hearing officer will also want information about the parents’ progress toward completing their assigned tasks. It could have an impact on the Alpharetta custody arrangements if the hearing officer believes a parent is not making an appropriate effort to complete their assigned tasks and cooperate with the other parent in moving the case forward.
During the monthly hearings, the hearing officer might make suggestions about how the parents could resolve their ongoing issues. It is wise for parents to at least consider the suggestions.
Custody disputes are hard on children, and the Alpharetta hearing process is meant to make the process as non-confrontational as possible. When parents are cooperative and respectful of each other’s role in their children’s lives, the children have an easier time adapting to their parents living apart.
The purpose of the hearings and the involvement of people like the GAL and custody evaluator is to help the parents understand what is best for their children. In many cases, the parents can resolve their disputes during the hearing process and formulate a workable and effective parenting plan together.
The Alpharetta child custody hearing process requires a substantial investment in time, but it is often worthwhile. Custody cases move forward more smoothly when parents have regular opportunities to discuss their family arrangements with each other and the hearing officer in a safe and controlled environment.
The hearings are also vital to a final custody decision, and you must put your best foot forward every time. Working with an experienced custody attorney from the Atlanta Divorce Law Group can help you do that. Call today.