Atlanta Child Custody Attorney
Guiding parents to plans that respect the practical and emotional needs of parents and children
When you had a child or children and imagined the future, you likely did not imagine that future involved a divorce or, worse, a custody battle. Often both parents want what is best for their children, even if parents cannot agree on what “best” is. It is particularly challenging to see what lies ahead for your child or children if the situation between you and the other parent are contentious now. The solution-oriented advocates at Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French Family Law understand that difficulty and welcome the opportunity to guide you through it. The partner s are all parents ourselves, we are trained as guardians ad litem and mediators, as well as arbitrators. Our Atlanta child custody attorneys are skilled in working with parents to put the needs of the child or children first. We try to find an amicable resolution that works for your family, but if we cannot get your case settled, , however, we are also skilled advocates who litigate for our clients and their children.
Child Custody Includes “Legal” Custody as Well as “Physical” Custody
Child custody has two aspects: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to when the child or children spend times with each parent, and this is what most people think of when they think of custody. Legal custody refers to the right (and the responsibility) to make major decisions regarding the child or children’s upbringing. A parent with legal custody has the authority to decide matters such as where the child goes to school, what kind of religious instruction the child receives, what kind of medical care the child receives, whether the child can go to summer camp or participate in extracurricular activities, etc.
The general policy in Georgia is for both parents to share in their child or children’s upbringing and have meaningful contact and relationships, but this can change depending on what is determined to be in the best interest of the child or children. There are as many variations of custody arrangements as there are different types of families. Parents can share legal custody and share parenting time or one parent may have more parenting time than the other. To determine how much parenting time each parent should have, the best interests of the child or children are considered as well as the behavior of the parent or parents. For example, a parent who is imprisoned will likely be awarded less parenting time than someone who is not imprisoned.
The Best Interests of the Child Should Prevail
Whether reviewing a parenting plan submitted by the parents or deciding a custody dispute in litigation, the guiding light for the judge is to do what is in the best interests of the child. In other words, where and how will the child or children best thrive? To answer this question, the judge will normally consider factors such as the following:
- The parents’ jobs and availability to devote sufficient time to parenting
- The quality of the home environments
- A child’s need to stay in the same home for stability
- The strength of the child’s emotional bonds with each parent
- The strength of the child’s family ties to siblings
- Each parents’ familiarity with the child’s needs
- The parents’ parenting history of involvement with the child’s life
Needs change, and custody or parenting time may change too. Some changes can be anticipated and written into the plan, such as a change in custody when the child enters school, moves from elementary to secondary school, experiences puberty, etc., while other changes may not (such as the loss of a job, a move across town or to another state, etc). .
The parenting plan is the document that memorializes all aspects of legal and physical custody, such as vacations and holidays, transportation, drop-off exchanges, and parental contact with the children during noncustodial time, how parenting decisions will be made, and how issues will be resolved if the parents disagree.
Contact Experienced Atlanta Child Custody Attorneys
All of our firm’s partners are trained and experienced mediators who know how to negotiate and resolve disputes. We will work with you, your spouse and their attorney to come up with a practical plan that meets the needs of both parents as well as the children. We are also court-experienced. If an agreement cannot be worked out and needs to be litigated, our lawyers have the skills and determination to represent your interests in court. Whether your case can be settled amicably or needs to go to court, trust our attorneys to see you are treated fairly in any outcome.
Call Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French Family Law in Atlanta for help with family law, divorce and child custody matters.