Whenever a court must make a decision that will affect the life of a child, the judge is required to act in that child’s best interests. This is especially true when parents request formal changes to their child-sharing agreements before a family court.
Forsyth County courts may allow a change of custody if you can show that your circumstances have changed substantially and subsequently affect your children’s wellbeing. Call our team of qualified lawyers to learn more about how to prepare for a Forsyth County child custody modification.
A judge can award a parent sole custody of their children, shared physical custody, or shared legal custody. Georgia law presumes that parents will work together and split custody relatively evenly unless there is a compelling reason for them not to do so.
Child custody is different from time-sharing or visitation in that it gives a parent legal rights and responsibilities for their children, whereas the latter two terms refer to how parents split their time with their children. Parents can independently decide to change their visitation time, but they cannot make formal changes to legal or physical child custody in Forsyth County without approval from a judge.
When a parent has physical custody of their children, it means that they control most of their kids’ daily lives. For example, children spend more time with their custodial parent, and the custodial parent’s address may be their permanent residence for documentary needs.
In contrast, legal custody gives a parent the right to make or weigh in on important decisions in their children’s lives. Parents who share legal custody must consult with each other when making important decisions that might affect their children’s health, education, or general welfare.
When a parent wants to change who is entitled to legal or physical custody of their kids, they must file a motion with a family court. A Forsyth County judge’s decision to grant a child custody modification would be based on whether there has been a material change of circumstances that affects the welfare of the children in question, such as a parent taking a new job or evidence of abuse or neglect.
Parents can apply for a modification of child custody two years after the date of their initial order, as well as once every two years thereafter. Exceptions to the two-year limit may be granted if, for example, a custodial parent is not following their visitation plan or a parent involuntarily loses their job and cannot afford custody. In general, however, the statute is meant to prohibit parents from changing custody frequently without substantial justification, as per Official Code of Georgia §19-9-3.
A judge must weigh a material change in circumstances in addition to the rights of the other parent and the best interests of the children. While such a change does not automatically warrant a child custody modification, a judge in Forsyth County cannot grant formal changes to child-sharing plans without a material change in the circumstances of one or both parents.
Modifying a custody order can be difficult and complicated, and you may need professional help from a seasoned attorney to convince a judge that a formal change is necessary. Get the help you need to change your child-sharing arrangement by calling our team and learning more about Forsyth County child custody modification.
Atlanta Divorce Law Group