Steps To Take Before Your Child Custody Case
When you are planning for a child custody case in the Atlanta area, it is important to plan ahead in order to be prepared for the process and how it will work under Georgia law. Whether you have minor children from a marriage and are going through a divorce or modification, or whether you share minor children with a partner you are not married to and you are separating, you will need to learn more about how Georgia courts address child custody and in order to take steps to get ready for your child custody case. The following are recommended steps our Atlanta child custody attorneys recommend you take.
- Understand How Georgia Child Custody Laws Work
Before you go through a child custody case, it is essential to understand how child custody laws work in Georgia. Under Georgia law, parents can be awarded legal custody and/or physical custody. Within those categories, parents can share joint custody in a variety of forms or be awarded sole custody.
Legal custody involves the right to make major decisions about the child’s life, such as where and how the child will receive an education and health care, which extracurricular activities the child will participate in, and whether and where the child will receive religious instruction. Physical custody involves spending time with the child and making day-to-day child-rearing decisions. If one parent has the majority of the parenting time, they can also be referred to as the primary physical custodian.
For parents who have had a child together out of wedlock, only the parent that gave birth to the child has legal rights to the child until the other parent goes through a legitimation process. Even if the other parent is named on the child’s birth certificate, that alone does not grant the parent custodial rights. Our family law attorneys can guide you through this essential legitimation process.
- Learn About the “Child’s Best Interests” Standard
When you are learning more about how child custody laws work in general, it is also essential to understand what the “child’s best interest” standard means and how Georgia courts will apply it. When determining custody, courts will look at a wide variety of factors to decide what kind of child custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child, considering factors such as the health of all parties involved, each parent’s involvement in the child’s life to date, and each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Gather Documentation
You should gather any documentation that speaks to your relationship with your child, your involvement in the child’s life, including the child’s education, healthcare, religious training and extracurricular activities, and any other documentation that may be relevant to the court in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
- Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Child custody cases can be extremely difficult emotionally. It is important to prepare yourself ahead of time and to focus on your child’s needs and well-being.
- Hire a Georgia Child Custody Lawyer Who Can Help
You should always have a child custody lawyer on your side during a custody case. One of our Georgia child custody attorneys can help.
Contact Our Atlanta Child Custody Attorneys for More Information
If you are currently planning on a divorce and share minor children with your spouse, or if you are ending a relationship with a partner and you share minor children from the relationship, you will need to go through the child custody process in Georgia. An experienced and dedicated Atlanta child custody attorney at our firm can represent you throughout your child custody case, from preparing documentation and materials, to filing a custody petition, guiding you through the legitimation process if your child was born out of wedlock, modifying your custody arrangement or Parenting Plan if a child custody order has already been entered. Contact Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French today to learn more about how we can assist you.