When couples separate or divorce, a judge will decide how the custody and visitation rights are shared between the parents if the parents are unable to reach a settlement agreement. A child’s best interest is kept in mind when deciding both. To protect yours and your child’s rights and ensure the best possible outcome, it is important to hire an experienced family lawyer. The decisions made now will impact you and your child for the rest of your lives.
At Teston & Burruss, our skilled custody lawyers advise and represent parents throughout north Georgia in child custody disputes. We also serve unmarried parents who need to make important decisions regarding custody and parenting time, as well as child support. Our primary goal is to find the best solution for you and your children.
Protecting the Best Interests of Your Child
Georgia’s custody laws require a judge to make a decision based on “the best interest of the child” in any custodial decision. A judge will consider several factors to determine each parent’s home environment and ability to care for and nurture the child in the future. These factors include:
- Physical and mental health of each parent
- Each parent’s emotional ties to the child
- Both parent’s ability to provide the child with clothing, food, and medical care
- The relationship between the child and any siblings, half-siblings, or stepsiblings who are in either parent’s home
- Each parent’s familiarity with the child’s health, educational, and social needs
- Each parent’s involvement in the child’s schooling and extra-curricular activities
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
- Each parent’s relative stability
- Any history of substance abuse by either parent
- History of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect of children by either parent
- Criminal histories of either parent
In some cases, a judge will appoint a custody evaluator to meet the family and make a custody recommendation to the judge, though the judge is not required to follow the recommendation.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is filed with the court and will help determine how you and your child’s mother or father will co-parent the child after a separation. Important factors will have to be taken into consideration while planning, which may include:
- Who will have legal custody? The legal custodian makes important decisions regarding a child’s life. These may include the religious upbringing of the child, extracurricular activities, education, and medical care. If the legal custody is joint, then decisions about how disagreements will be resolved will need to be determined.
- Who will be the Primary physical custodian?
Custody Evaluators in Georgia
A custody evaluator will help provide the court with a professional opinion as to custody arrangements and what is in the best interest of the child. Custody evaluators may present his or her opinion to the court but the judge is not required to follow the recommendation. The family law attorneys at Teston & Burruss are determined and skilled in their respective fields. They will fight until the very end to get you the best outcome possible for your case.
Psychological Evaluations in a Georgia Divorce
A psychological evaluation of a parent to determine if he or she is mentally and emotionally fit to take care of the child can be requested by either parent or ordered by a judge. A psychological evaluation is conducted by a licensed psychologist, whose goal is to determine the mental and emotional state of the parent.
At Teston & Burruss we understand the importance of a parent and child relationship. Our attorneys have years of experience with the toughest of child custody disputes. We will guide you through the process at every turn. We help you achieve your goals and help you find a solution that will enable you to enjoy a rich and meaningful relationship with your children.
Visitation: Protecting Your Relationship with Your Children
There is no typical arrangement or schedule for child visitation. A plan that makes it easier for you and your child’s father or mother to co-parent is discussed in settlement negotiations. The visitation schedule can be negotiated and established between both the parties in a manner that works for both the parents. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the court may order the parties to attend mediation before trial as a last chance effort to reach a settlement.
At our law office, we assist you in negotiating the best child custody and visitation schedule between you and your ex to successfully co-parent your children. We also assist grandparents with visitation rights as well.
How Much Visitation Can I Have?
A visitation arrangement can result in one parent having primary physical custody, while the other parents receives a visitation schedule. The parent with the visitation may have overnight visits on alternating weekends, alternating holidays, extended time during school breaks and summer vacations, plus one evening/night during the week. You and your child’s mother or father can negotiate a different arrangement that works best for you both.
At trial, a judge will set visitation based on what he believes is in the best interest of the child. The court usually believes that it is in the best interest of the children if both parents have as much time with the children as possible. If both parents are unable to reach a visitation schedule amicably, then the courts decide for them. Our lawyers at Teston & Burruss are experienced and put forward the right argument to get you to your visitation or custody goals.
What If There Are Allegations of Child Abuse?
In cases where evidence of child abuse is present, the court will often schedule supervised visits or prohibit visitation completely.
Obtaining a Child Custody or Visitation Modification
Visitation modification can be done by obtaining a court order. Modification may be ordered in cases where a parents work timing has changed or where one parent has relocated residences and now lives further or closer to the other parent. In such cases a new visitation schedule is worked out keeping in mind the best interest of the child.