Are you seeking custody of your child in Douglasville, GA? Our Douglasville child custody lawyers at Bardley McKnight Law, LLC can help you achieve your goals for your family. We have decades of combined experience handling complex family law claims.
We’re ready to dedicate our experience and resources to your case. Let us tell you more about how we can help you seek custody of your child during a consultation. Our Douglasville child custody lawyers are ready to help you understand your rights.
How Bardley McKnight Law Can Help With Your Child Custody Case in Douglasville, GA
A child custody proceeding can be a difficult experience for everyone involved, especially if there are critical issues that need to be worked through. At the same time, there’s a lot at stake – and your interests matter. That’s where the trusted Douglasville family lawyers with Bardley McKnight Law can help.
We’re here to make the process go as smoothly as possible for you and your child. Our award-winning team of compassionate divorce lawyers in Douglasville, Georgia, has decades of combined experience and understands the delicate nature of child custody cases.
When you hire us, we can help by:
- Focusing on the well-being and best interests of you and your child as we advocate for a desirable parenting plan on your behalf
- Taking care of all the necessary paperwork, negotiations, and communications with the other parent’s legal counsel
- Evaluating your legal options and best course of action as your case progresses
- Arguing your case before a family court judge if necessary
If you’d like more information about how we can help with your child custody case in Douglasville, reach out today to arrange an initial case review.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Georgia?
In Georgia, the primary consideration regarding child custody is the best interests of the child. State law reflects the notion that parents are generally best positioned to develop a parenting plan that is tailored to their child’s needs. There is also no presumption in favor of either parent regarding child custody proceedings or any specific type of custody arrangement.
Nonetheless, a family court must review and approve any parenting plan before it becomes legally binding. If there are disputes regarding child custody, the judge may ultimately weigh in and decide on any issues.
Factors courts consider include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The emotional bond between each parent and the child
- Each parent’s ability to provide a safe and loving home
- The child’s own preferences, if they are at least 11 years of age
- Any evidence of abuse and the presence of any criminal records
- The mental and physical health of each parent
In cases where the child is 14 years of age or older, their preferences will be given substantial weight – such that in many cases, the judge will allow the child to live with the parent of their choosing. Supervised Visitation & Court-Ordered Conditions
By default, parents in Douglasville, GA, have the right to see their children and spend time with them. However, if the court determines that doing so is not in the child’s best interest or that the parent is unfit, it may impose restrictions.
One common restriction under Georgia law is supervised visitation. With supervised visitation, a parent may only spend time with their child under the supervision of a third party. Generally, the third party will be a social worker or child care professional. Visitation may take place at a neutral location or at a parent’s home, depending on the case.
Courts focus on the best interests and well-being of the child during visitation. The neutral third party will only intervene during visitation if the child’s safety is threatened; otherwise, they only observe and take notes as necessary.
Supervised visitation may be imposed if the case involves a factor such as domestic violence, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or child neglect.
Court-ordered conditions are another type of child custody restriction a judge may impose on a parent. Here, too, the child’s best interests are the primary consideration. These conditions are generally less intrusive than supervised visitation and may appear in a wider range of cases.
For example, in Georgia, there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where the child lives, and legal custody refers to decision-making authority regarding the child. Parents may share either type of custody, or the court may designate a parent as having “sole” legal or physical custody.
Courts may then impose conditions related to these forms of custody, such as the amount of time each parent may spend with the child. There are many other types of court-ordered conditions as well that may apply based on the facts and circumstances involved in the case.
Can Child Custody Orders Be Modified in Georgia?
Yes, child custody orders can’t always account for every life change that happens to a family. Therefore, child custody plans and visitation orders can be amended. To amend these orders, you will have to file a petition for post-judgment modification.
The court may make a modification to your custody or visitation agreement when it finds that material changes have occurred that could affect the child’s best interests. The judge will look to see whether one or both parents have experienced a substantial change in circumstance. The judge will have discretion over the determination.
Generally, a parent may seek a custody modification do to any of the following changes:
- One parent is relocating to a distant place
- The child is 14 or older and wants to live with their other parent
- Evidence that one parent is unfit
- A child’s needs have changed significantly
- A parent or child will have long-term changes to their schedules
Contact our experienced Douglasville child custody attorneys today to learn more about how we can protect your legal rights and interests.
What Happens if a Parent Violates a Custody or Visitation Order?
If one parent refuses to abide by the terms and conditions of a custody or visitation order, the other parent can seek to have the order enforced by the court. Typically, the non-offending parent will file a “contempt order” with the court.
A court can take any of the following actions:
- Order make-up parenting time
- Order the offending parent to pay court costs and expenses
- Order parenting classes
- Order a change in transportation
- Hold the offending parent in contempt of court, which could result in fines and jail time.
A court will not order a custody change during a contempt hearing. However, repeated violations of a custody or visitation order may provide grounds for a change in custody.
Parental Alienation in Georgia
Parental alienation occurs when one parent (typically the custodial parent) takes actions to alienate their child from the other parent. Such alienation may involve a refusal to provide visitation time to the parent or manipulating the visitation rules. It can also involve open criticism, blame for the divorce, and other unpleasant attitudes toward the alienated parent.
Sometimes, parental alienation is intentional; sometimes it’s the result of carelessness. Parental alienation can be emotionally damaging to a child and cause serious harm to their relationship with both parents.
Georgia recognizes that, in most cases, it is in children’s best interests to have a relationship with both their parents. Therefore, courts will encourage continued contact and relationship between a child and both parents. If a parent is found responsible for parental alienation, they might give the court justification to modify the custody order.
Contact an experienced lawyer if you suspect your child’s other parent is engaging in parental alienation.
Contact a Douglasville Child Custody Lawyer for a Consultation
Your relationship with your children is important. Therefore, you should have experienced legal representation to help you seek child custody. Bardley McKnight Law can handle all aspects of your child custody case.
We can work with your child’s other parents to come up with a custody agreement that satisfies all parties. If this fails, we can advocate for your interests in court and gather evidence that custody with you is in the best interest of your child.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Our Douglasville child custody lawyers are ready to help you come up with a plan to protect your rights to your child and achieve all your goals for your family law case.
Douglasville Child Custody Resources
- File For Child Custody – Georgia Gov
- Court Services – City Of Douglasville
- SafeKids.org – Douglas County
- Child Custody – Judicial Council Of Georgia
Douglasville, GA Child Custody Client Review
The team at Bradley McKnight Law really go the extra mile for their clients. They are very knowledgeable when it comes to family law. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them for the past couple of months and they have done an amazing job. They have been well prepared every time we step in the court room. They actually listen to their clients and formulate a plan based off your needs. They are hands down the best I’ve ever seen.
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