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Can I Modify My Child Custody Arrangement Without Going To Court?

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Can I Modify My Child Custody Arrangement Without Going To Court?

Many people have informal agreements about how they will parent their child and which parent gets to spend time with the child. In these situations, the parents can make adjustments as they see fit. However, these arrangements do not have the enforcement power of the court. To have a formal child custody arrangement modified, you must get the court’s authorization. 

This does not mean that the process to modify child custody is always contentious. If you and the other parent agree to the changes, a modification of the order can be relatively fast and simple. Here is what you need to know about modifying a child custody order in Georgia. 

How Child Custody Agreements Are Reached

In Georgia, there are a few pathways to reach a court-ordered child custody arrangement, including:

  • Agreement between the parents – The parents may agree about child custody. These agreements are legally binding. However, to make these arrangements official, the parents must have the judge sign them and make them a court order. Then, if either party breaches the agreement, the other can ask the court to enforce the order or hold the breaching parent in contempt.  
  • Negotiation with lawyers – Even if the parents do not initially agree, they may be able to negotiate through their attorneys to reach an amicable agreement. The attorneys can then get the court to sign off on the agreement and convert it to a court order.
  • Mediation – Mediation is an informal process in which an impartial third party helps the parties to identify their objectives and try to reach an agreement to avoid the expense and hassle of a trial. If the parties reach a custody agreement in mediation, they can then ask the court to authorize it in order to make it official.
  • Contested hearing – If the parents do not agree on custody, such as one parent wants sole custody while the other wants joint custody, the parent wanting custody can petition the court. They can then argue that their proposed form of custody is in the child’s best interests. The court considers various factors, such as the child’s preference, the history of co-parenting, any substance abuse by either parent, physical abuse, and the employment of the parties. 

Once the judge issues a child custody order, it is a legally binding agreement. It remains in effect until the court approves a modification, so both parents must continue to follow this agreement until this occurs. To modify an order, you could use the pathways above. 

Can You Modify a Georgia Parenting Plan Without Going To Court?

You and the other parent might make small changes, such as drop-off times and locations. However, a child custody agreement without court authorization would not allow you to enforce the agreement through court. 

The court can only authorize an order under its purview. If the other parent decided not to go through with the terms of the new agreement, you would have limited recourse against them.  To have a legally-binding and court-enforced child custody arrangement, you would need to return to the court system. 

How Can I Modify a Custody Order in Georgia?

To modify a custody order in Georgia, you must be able to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. You must file a petition with the court where the original child custody arrangement is in place. 

If your petition is contested by the other parent, the court schedules a hearing where you can present evidence and testimony about why the child custody order should be modified. 

Contact the Georgia Child Custody Lawyers of Bardley McKnight Law Divorce Lawyers for Help With a Modification

Child custody arrangements can be complicated and sometimes need to be changed. If you would like to modify your child custody order, an experienced Georgia child custody attorney can review your case and explain your options.

For more information, please contact Bardley McKnight Law Divorce Lawyers to schedule a confidential consultation with a Child Custody lawyer in Douglasville today.

We proudly serve Douglas County and its surrounding areas:

Law Firm of Bardley McKnight Law Divorce Lawyers Offices
12461 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Suite 470
Douglasville, GA 30134

(470) 308-5409

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