Child Custody Agreements and Modifications

Jul 15, 2022 | Sara Khaki

little kid sitting on couch in pjs

When you are getting divorced, and children are involved, it can be a frustrating situation. This is especially true if your spouse is being difficult or you both cannot come to an agreement. When discussing custody over children, it is essential to have a loyal family attorney draw up a custody agreement. Our team at Atlanta Divorce Law Group can help – call us today.

Modifying Custody

When a judge has issued a custody order, it will stay in effect until a child reaches 18 or the order is modified. A parent who violates these terms can face sanctions. It is not uncommon, however, for families to undergo significant shifts in their everyday lives that require changes to be made.

Either parent can file a petition to amend custody arrangements. However, before a family court may make amendments, the petitioning parent must show that a major change in circumstances has affected the child’s well-being. Alternatively, if a significant amount of time has passed since the last custody order was granted, this can also suffice.

A Georgia court will grant the modification if it is determined that a custody adjustment is in a child’s best interests.

Types of Child Custody in Georgia

There are two forms of custody recognized in Georgia: physical and legal. The child lives with the parent who has physical custody. Parents may share this and spend equal time with their child, which is then referred to as joint physical custody. Another option is for only one parent to have these rights, which is known as sole physical custody.

A parent who has legal custody of their child has the authority to make crucial medical, legal, educational, and religious choices on their behalf. In many circumstances, a family court will grant both parents joint legal custody of their children. Both parents have a say in all significant issues if the legal custody is shared.

When both physical and legal custody is shared, one person will be identified as the primary custodial parent. If the parents cannot agree on a choice concerning their child, this parent has the final word on the matter unless their agreement specifies differently.

The Child’s Best Interests

Custody laws in Georgia require a judge to make a child’s best interests the focus of any decision. The judge will consider several factors to determine what kind of arrangement best accomplishes this. These factors can include, but are not limited to:

  • The home environment of each parent;
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health;
  • Emotional ties to the child;
  • The relative stability of each parent;
  • Each parent’s familiarity with the child’s health, educational, and social needs.

Georgia custody rules also allow children aged 14 and above to express a preference for which parent they would want to reside with. However, a family court’s custody decision is not determined by a child’s choice of the custodial parent alone. Instead, a judge will seriously consider their preference  along with the before-mentioned factors, to decide on an appropriate arrangement for the child’s needs.

Enlist the Help of a Dedicated Family Attorney

If you and your spouse are separated or need a custody modification, it is wise to contact a skilled family attorney. At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, our firm is here to help you navigate the necessary steps to figuring out custodial agreements. For more information regarding child custody, please call us today for a free consultation with a qualified team member.

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