Child custody issues are often the most contentious issues in any divorce. Most parents understandably want to have as much time as possible with their children. However, sometimes courts do not grant them the custody arrangement they need.

If you are in such a situation, our dedicated team of knowledgeable family attorneys may be able to help. A Cumming child custody lawyer could advise you on your legal options and work with you to decide on a custody arrangement that fits your life. If necessary, they could also help you petition the court to grant you new or expanded custody rights.

Basic Rules and Laws for Child Custody

Generally, courts in Georgia decide child custody arrangements during divorce or other similar proceedings, although parents may petition for custody decrees or modifications at other times. Before a court makes any binding decision, though, Official Code of Georgia §19-9-1 requires each parent to submit a parenting plan.

The plan—which a skilled Cumming child custody lawyer could help both draft and review—must cover how the parents wish to split their custodial time with their children and whether to allow visitations. Unless otherwise specified or ordered by a court, both parents have the right to access all their child’s records and information, including health records, educational information, and the like.

Custody Determinations

O.C.G.A. §19-9-3 mandates that all child custody determinations are decided by a judge rather than a jury. Generally, a judge may take into account any and all circumstances related to a case, including any of the following:

  • Relationship between the child and each parent;
  • Ability of each parent to care for the child;
  • Each parent’s knowledge of the child and familiarity with their needs;
  • Home environment of each parent;
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health.

The main concern, however, is to establish a custody arrangement that protects the best interests of the child. As a result, courts may specifically inquire into whether either parent has a history of causing bodily harm, injury, child abuse, or substance abuse.

If there are specific allegations of abuse or neglect, a judge has the power under O.C.G.A. §19-9-4 to order the appropriate child services agency to investigate the matter. A child custody lawyer in Cumming could answer further questions that parents have about custody determinations and how courts usually decide such matters.

Child’s Consent

Under O.C.G.A. §19-9-3, a child who is 14 years of age or older generally has the right to decide the parent with whom they wish to live. If the child is currently younger than 14, they may have the right to change who they live with once they turn 14.

Additionally, in cases where the child is younger than 14 but at least 11 years of age, the court must consider the child’s desires and educational requirements when deciding custody. In doing so, a judge may issue a trial custody period for six months or less and then decide whether to make such an arrangement permanent.

Consulting with a Cumming Child Custody Attorney

If you need help with a child custody issue in Georgia, you may need a qualified member of our team to assist you in pursuing the custody arrangement that is best for your child and you. After sitting down with you and making sure we understand your specific situation, a Cumming child custody lawyer from our firm could do any research necessary to make your case as strong as possible, including reviewing any previous court orders and advising you on the types of custody arrangements you may be eligible to receive. Call today to get started on your case.

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