Divorce is a devastating event for most individuals. Your entire world is turned upside down, sometimes quite literally overnight. Custody disputes can be one of the most painful, bitter aspects of a divorce. Spouses often act in self-interested ways that do not fully or partially take the best interests of their children into consideration.
Georgia Custody Laws
Under Georgia law, there is no presumption as to which parent is entitled to custody. Either a mother or father is equally entitled to seek custody, whether full or joint. Do not assume just because you are a father, you are not entitled to seek the custody you want. All decisions about custody are measured by an evaluation of what is in the best interest of the children.
There are two types of custody sharing arrangements in most states, including Georgia—full and joint. Full custody involves one parent having full control over the children. Joint custody involves both parents having control over the children.
There are two types of control arrangements at issue in Georgia, as well. Physical custody involves the parent with whom the children have their primary living arrangements and the parent who is the primary caretaker. Physical custody can be sole or joint. Legal custody involves the ability of one or both parents to have a say in the major decisions involving the children, and likewise can be sole or joint.
Custody arrangements are set forth in what is known as a parenting plan. The parenting plan provides for things such as holiday visitation schedules; visitation schedules more generally; transportation arrangements; allocation of expenses related to the children, such as schooling; and how decisions and decision-making is allocated between the parents.
Georgia also provides that children fourteen years of age or older can make an election about which parent the child wants to live with. However, a judge can overrule this election if he or she believes it is not in the best interests of the child.
Custody disputes can involve who has physical custody, and related visitation issues, who has legal custody, or both, and whether that custody is sole or joint. Regardless of the nature of the custody dispute, individuals engaged in custody disputes can become emotional, irrational, and hostile. Some parents use custody disputes as a tool to exact revenge on the other spouse, and will resort to all manner of negative tactics, such as threats, libel and slander, and manipulation of the children, to get what they want.
When this happens, it is important to retain an attorney who is experienced in difficult custody disputes to ensure that your interests as a parent and an individual are fully protected. Emotions, including anger, can run very high, and attorneys not used to this may not be quite sure how to deal with such emotions, especially over a long period of time. Additionally, it is not uncommon for parties to be in court on a regular basis when custody disputes are ongoing, so it is also important to retain an attorney that you trust, because you will be relying on him or her for months or even longer to come.
The professionals at McLeod Law Firm, P.C., located in Gainesville GA, have been navigating the rocky waters of child custody disputes for over two decades. If you live in Georgia and are in need of an attorney to help you through a difficult custody dispute, we are here. Contact us today at (770) 536-0202 to set up an initial consultation.