Parenting a child is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. It is no surprise, then, that cases regarding the custody of minor children are some of the most hotly contested. If you find yourself in a situation where you are in court for a custody case, consider the following tips:
1. In Georgia, if a child is born out of wedlock, the biological father has no automatic rights to custody or visitation. Before a court will give a father rights to his child, the father must legitimate the child. Signing a birth certificate does not automatically legitimate a child, although there are some additional forms that may be signed at the hospital that do legitimate a child. Once a child is legitimated, custody and visitation must still be determined by the court.
2. In Georgia there are two forms of custody. Legal Custody determines which parent will make major decisions regarding the child. These decisions include religious upbringing, health care, extracurricular activities and education. Physical Custody refers to which parent will physically control the child. Parents often mix the two definitions but the courts will make a decision regarding both types of custody.
3. When parents share joint custody, often a child support obligation is lowered or offset, however, if there is an outstanding difference between the incomes of the parents, joint custody may not relieve one parent from paying child support to another parent.
4. At the age of 14, a child may elect which parent they choose to live with. When an election is made at this age, courts rely very heavily on the minor’s decision and, although they can decide otherwise, often grant a minor’s choice. At the age of 11, a child may also make his choice known, however, this election is given less weight than when a minor 14 years or older makes an election.
5. No matter the age of the minor, the court always looks at the best interest of the child to determine which custody situation makes the most sense regarding the minor. Money, time, wisdom, lifestyle of the parents all play a part in a custody determination.
Disclaimer: The content relayed in this blog article is purely informational and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney/client relationship is created until a retainer agreement is executed by both client and attorney.