Separating parents have a lot to handle. Among all the other important issues they must decide, they must agree on where their children will live and when the other parent will spend time with them. Co-parents must also make a detailed plan describing their agreement and how they will implement it.
A Buckhead visitation lawyer from our firm can provide valuable advice whether you are the parent the children will live with most of the time or the parent who gets visitation, also known as parenting time. A judge must approve any plan you and your co-parent come up with, so it is wise to get a family attorney’s opinion before you submit it.
Some states have laws that favor specific custody arrangements. Georgia does not. Fortunately, most parents can set aside their differences to work out a schedule that gives both parents meaningful opportunities to be with the children. However, in other circumstances, getting a co-parent to agree with a set plan can be a challenge. Regardless of whether you and your co-parent agree and simply need help with the details or are having trouble finding common ground, a Buckhead attorney can help you negotiate a visitation plan.
Legal custody is the right to make decisions for the child. Georgia courts often grant joint legal custody, so both parents get a say in big decisions like healthcare, religion, and education, although there must be a final decision maker designated for each category However, when there is a history of domestic violence or other unsafe behavior, a family court might grant one parent sole legal custody to prevent future intimidation or abuse. In these situations, a judge usually awards sole legal custody to the parent with primary physical custody.
Physical custody is where the children live most of the time. Parents can develop any physical custody arrangement that works for them and their children. Under a rarely used traditional arrangement, the non-residential parent might keep the children:
Many families arrange shared parenting so that the visitation schedule allows the non-residential parent more time with the children than the traditional arrangement permits.
Even when parents have joint physical custody and time with the children is equal or close to equal, a family judge may assign one parent to have primary physical custody. School registration, medical records, and other official records will use the address of the parent with primary physical custody.
A parenting plan must provide a detailed schedule of when the children will be with each parent, including dates and times. It must set forth who is responsible for transportation and where pickups and drop-offs will happen. The plan must designate who makes decisions for the child and, if parents share decision-making, how they will resolve disagreements.
The parenting plan also must describe rules the parents will follow. For example, some parents may decide they should refrain from alcohol use in front of their children. Other co-parents may choose to require notice or permission before introducing a new romantic partner to the children or require check-ins with each other every other day. A Buckhead attorney can help you decide what rules are necessary for you and your co-parent and include them in your parenting plan.
Sometimes situations do not allow parents to share physical or even legal custody. When one parent has not been involved with the children before the couple separated , that parent might not want the responsibility of caring for them often. If domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or untreated mental health issues are a concern, a judge might find it is in the children’s best interests that the other parent have sole custody.
As long as a parent has parental rights, they usually will have visitation rights. If there are safety concerns, a family judge might order that a social worker or other professional supervise the visits with the children. The supervisor’s role is to ensure the children are safe and the parent behaves appropriately.
When a parent has well-founded concerns about their co-parent caring for the children, they should discuss the details with a Buckhead visitation attorney. Our team can help parents develop parenting plans that keep their children safe. Alternatively, if a co-parent tries to prevent access to children without cause, a local family law professional could fight back to assert the other parent’s right to be an active member of their children’s lives.
Children need structure and certainty. When you and your co-parent split up, providing either can be challenging.
A Buckhead visitation lawyer from the Atlanta Divorce Law Group can explain what family law expects from a parenting plan and help you achieve it. If cooperative co-parenting is not advisable or possible in your case, our legal professionals can take your case before a judge. Schedule a consultation with a valuable member of your team today.