Child custody is one of the most important and challenging issues to resolve during the divorce process in Douglas County, GA. The welfare of your child is your first priority. Maintaining your strong relationship even after divorce is critical. You deserve to have an experienced and dedicated Douglas County child custody lawyer protecting your interests.
At Bardley McKnight Law, our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience handling complex and sensitive family law matters. Since we founded our family and divorce law firm in 2017, our lawyers have earned a reputation for helping clients reach favorable solutions and fiercely advocating to protect their best interests.
Our lawyers handle all types of child custody issues. To learn more about how we can help your family through this challenging time, contact our law offices in Douglas County, Georgia at (470) 308-5409, to arrange a consultation today. You can also contact us online.
How Bardley McKnight Law Can Help With Your Child Custody Case in Douglas County, GA
Child custody matters can be incredibly emotional. At Bardley McKnight Law, we know that every family is unique. Our Douglas County family law attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients reach custom-tailored solutions designed to benefit your family.
We’ll use our extensive experience in family law and mediation to reach a parenting plan that’s right for you by:
- Helping you identify your goals and concerns
- Applying the law to build strong arguments for the arrangement you desire
- Facilitating mediation between you and a co-parent
- Working with experts to gather evidence to support your goals
- Protecting your best interests at every turn
- Representing you at all hearings and trial dates
Even the most amicable situation can result in conflict when child custody matters are involved. Contact our Douglas County family lawyers to learn more about how we can help protect your family.
What Types of Child Custody Exist Under Georgia Law?
Georgia operates under the Uniform Child Custody Act. Child custody matters that are resolved in Georgia courts will generally be respected in all other states.
Douglas County family law judges can grant two primary types of child custody:
- Physical custody
- Legal custody
Physical custody dictates the amount of time each parent spends with the child. Legal custody involves the right to make important decisions about the child’s life.
Once the child reaches age 14, they can choose which parent they will live with. Georgia courts do have the authority to overrule the child’s decision if it is not in their best interests.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody means that each parent has an equal say in the child’s upbringing.
That includes major decisions regarding the child’s:
- Extracurricular activities
- Religious upbringing
- Health care
The court may grant one parent the authority to make final decisions in some areas, especially when the parents disagree.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody means that each parent spends substantially equal time with the child. Under Georgia law, courts generally attempt to maintain the child’s relationship with each parent.
Of course, joint custody is rarely simple. It’s also important to maintain stability for the child. Often, the child lives primarily with one parent, yet the court grants liberal visitation time to the other parent.
When the child is with one parent, that parent has the authority to make day-to-day decisions that impact the child.
Sole custody means that one parent is granted sole physical and legal custody of the child. The non-custodial parent will typically be granted visitation or parenting time unless there is a valid reason to prohibit contact with the child.
It’s also possible that one parent can be granted sole physical custody while the parents continue to share joint legal custody.
We Handle All Types of Child Custody Matters
At Bardley McKnight Law, we handle all types of child custody cases, including those involving:
- Contested divorce cases
- Uncontested divorce
- LGBTQ divorce
- Military divorce
- Modification of child custody arrangements
- Parenting time and visitation disputes
- Supervised visitation orders
- Grandparents’ visitation rights
- Parental alienation
It’s important to have a skilled Douglas County child custody attorney in your corner to handle the legal issues. Schedule a consultation with Bardley McKnight Law today to learn more.
How Will My Douglas County Child Custody Case Be Determined?
As in other states, Georgia family court judges make child custody decisions based on a “best interests of the child” standard.
Factors that are used in determining the child’s best interests include:
- The physical safety and welfare of the child
- The emotional ties between the child and each parent
- The emotional ties between the child and siblings or step-siblings, and the residences of these siblings
- The child’s need for permanence and stability, considering relationships with siblings, parents and other relatives
- The capacity of each parent to care for the child
- The home environment of each parent
- The presence or absence of support systems that can benefit the child
- The physical and mental capacity of all parties involved
- Each parent’s employment schedule and ability to spend time with the child
- The child’s ties to the community
- The least disruptive arrangement for the child
- The child’s wishes and goals
- Any special needs of the child
- Any history of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and other similar types of behavior
- Any other factors deemed relevant by the court
Essentially, the judge may consider all evidence presented about the requested child custody arrangements.
That said, it’s important to remember that a judge doesn’t have to make custody decisions if the parents can reach an agreement. Our lawyers are skilled mediators. We can help you reach a workable solution with your co-parent to avoid judicial intervention if preferable.
How Are Parenting Time and Visitation Determined in Douglas County?
Your child custody agreement will include a parenting time plan. “Parenting time” or “visitation” are the terms used to describe the child’s time with the non-custodial parent. Many different variations exist. The most favorable will depend on your family’s unique circumstances.
For families with school-aged children, the child’s routine must be factored into the equation. Depending on the proximity of each parent to the child’s school, the following options are common:
- The standard every-other-weekend approach, where the non-custodial parent has the child every other weekend, possibility with the ability to visit with the child after school on weekdays
- A weekly exchange, where the child is with each parent on alternating weeks
Parents who establish their separate residences within relatively close proximity tend to have more flexibility when it comes to arranging parenting time.
Again, as parents, you have the ability to develop your own parenting time plan. A judge’s decision is necessary only if you cannot agree on an arrangement that suits your family’s needs.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
Supervised visitation is typically ordered in situations where child abuse or substance is an issue. The court may order that the child’s visitation with one parent is supervised. The supervising party can be a family member or a third party, such as a social worker.
Courts also have the authority to attach conditions to a parent’s ability to see their child. For example, the court may order the parent to refrain from using drugs or alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to the visit.
Who Gets To Spend Summer Vacations and Holidays With the Children?
Summer vacation can present complications, especially when both parents work full-time. Parents may need to request time off work or arrange for child care.
While some families continue with their school-year parenting plan, others make special provisions for summer vacation. That can include extended visitation periods with each parent.
Your parenting plan will also determine who will spend holidays with children. Again, the child’s best interests are important here. Typically, holidays are divided between the parents. For example, a child may spend Thanksgiving with one parent and Christmas with the other on alternating years.
Can My Child Custody Arrangement Be Modified in Georgia?
Child custody arrangements can be modified when the court finds that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred. For example, modification often involves situations where one parent is moving out of state or further from the child.
What Happens if One Party Violates an Existing Child Custody or Visitation Arrangement?
Courts have the authority to enforce custody arrangements. If one parent violates the agreement, the other can file an order of contempt with the court. The court has many different options for enforcing the agreement.
If one parent continues to violate the agreement, the other can file a modification request and attempt to obtain sole custody.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent’s actions alienate the child from the other parent. These situations can involve intentional interference or unintentional acts, such as bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the child.
In Georgia, the child’s best interest includes maintaining a positive relationship with each parent. Parental alienation can be grounds for obtaining a court order to modify a custody agreement.
Contact an Experienced Douglas County Child Custody Lawyer for a Consultation Today
Child custody involves complex issues. Contact our Douglas County child custody lawyers at Bardley McKnight Law to learn more about your options today. We’re here to help you achieve your desired outcome to the best of our ability.