It’s not always possible for parents who cannot live together to agree on a child custody arrangement. You believe you know what’s best for your child, and you are not willing to compromise their wellbeing because the other parent wants something different. I understand how emotionally charged child custody conflicts can be, and I am committed to fighting for what my client wants, whether it’s full or shared custody.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Georgia?
Ideally, divorcing or unmarried parents can come to an agreement about what is best for the children. Traditionally, this often meant that children stayed with Mom for most of the week and went to Dad alternating weekends and holidays. However, families are very different today than they were 30 years ago. Frequently, both parents work the same hours and earn similar salaries. A more common arrangement these days is shared custody—a 50/50 arrangement with the children living for half of each week or month with each parent.
There are as many potential arrangements as there are families, but if you and the other parent cannot agree on a plan, it will be up to a judge. In making a custody decision, judges consider the following factors:
- Safety. The most important factor for a judge is whether the home environment is safe for the child. If there is a history of drug use or criminal activity, evidence of abuse or neglect, or a lack of stable, secure housing, the judge will not place a child in that situation.
- Attachment and involvement. The judge will heavily weigh evidence of a child’s feelings for and attachment to each parent, as well as the parent’s level of involvement in the child’s life up to this point. Is the parent familiar with the child’s interests and activities? Does the parent know what the child’s needs are? If not, it will be up to the parent to provide sound reasons for lack of involvement.
- Capacity. How capable is each parent of taking care of the child? The judge will want to see that the parent is not only able to provide shelter, food, and clothing but is also able to provide love, support, and guidance.
- Willingness to co-parent. If both parents are good candidates for custody, the judge will evaluate their willingness to work together. If one parent is negative about the other in front of the child and is not open to fostering a relationship with the other parent for the sake of the child, the judge will be less likely to award that parent custody.
- Child’s wishes. The judge may ask for the child’s input if they are between the ages of 11 and 14 and will take their wishes into consideration. Children 14 and older can choose which parent they want to live with unless the judge decides it is against their best interest to do so.
- Professional evaluation. In order to gather the information they need to reach a decision, the judge might order psychological evaluations, home visits, interviews, school visits, and more.
While the judge will make the final decision, each parent’s attorney plays an important role.
What I Do for My Clients
When I represent a client in a child custody case, it is my job to present evidence to support my client’s wishes. If my client thinks their child would be harmed by living with the other parent, I will gather evidence to prove it. If a creative solution is needed to best meet a child’s needs, I will help my client design one. When we meet to discuss your situation and your wishes, we will come up with a plan that puts your children first.
You want what is best for your child, and you know in your heart that it’s never good for them to see their parents fighting or to know that their living situation is up in the air. We are very sensitive to this issue, and we do everything we can to protect children from legal wrangling. When we do have to talk to children, we do so with the utmost care and compassion.
At Brian Hobbs Law, we are committed to helping our clients achieve their child custody goals. Wherever you are in the process, contact me to find out how I can help.