DILIGENT DIVORCE LAWYER HELPING ATLANTA RESIDENTS
Almost every divorce is difficult, but this process can be especially complex and stressful when it involves children. While most parents want to do what is best for their kids, the spouses may have to reach a compromise on their own needs in this situation. If you need assistance with setting up this sort of arrangement, child custody attorney Thomas C. Rowsey can help. For over two decades, he has been assisting individuals throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area with a wide range of family law matters.
DEVELOPING A PARENTING PLAN FOR CHILD CUSTODY IN GEORGIA
There are cases in which one parent may not be allowed custody, as well as extreme cases in which neither parent may retain custody of a child in favor of grandparents or other guardians. Following most divorces, however, both parents of a child will continue to play strong roles in his or her life. As a rule, Georgia courts prefer joint custody arrangements to encourage both parents to continue their responsibilities for and relationships with their kids.
There are two facets of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody relates to the physical possession of a child. Legal custody relates to the parent’s rights to make decisions on behalf of a child regarding education, medical care, extracurricular activities, religious instruction, and similarly significant matters. In most cases, unless there are special circumstances like a history of domestic abuse, a Georgia family court will favor joint physical and legal custody that divides these key rights between the parents. Even when one former spouse is given sole custody rights, the other former spouse usually has visitation or other rights.
In cases when the parents agree to retain joint custody, they can present their own parenting plan to the family court. However, even when they agree, the court is not obligated to approve it. The focus of a judge in this situation is to serve the child’s health, safety, and comfort interests, regardless of the divorcing spouse’s desires. At a minimum, a parenting plan should address:
- Where the child will be every day, including holidays, birthdays, school breaks, and vacations;
Transportation arrangements, including allocations of costs in transferring the child from one parent to the other;
- Child-care and other care arrangements, if necessary;
- How the parents will allocate decision-making responsibilities, and how they will resolve any disagreements between them;
- How a parent may contact the child when he or she is in the other parent’s care; and
- How the parents will accommodate certain events, such as moving, changes in work hours, or unexpected travel.
The court must make sure that the plan comprehensively addresses the needs of the children as they age and mature, and not just their present desires or those of their parents.
When an arrangement is approved, the parents are obligated to conform to it. A parenting plan may only be amended if there is a significant change in family circumstances. In rare instances, such as when a parent in the military is deployed, Georgia law makes accommodations. In addition, when a child turns 14, he or she may request a change in custody by asking to live with one parent or the other, although a court has the discretion to deny that request.
LEGAL GUIDANCE IN THE ROSWELL AREA FOR FAMILY LAW MATTERS
Child custody issues can be relatively smooth or very contentious. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help you navigate your way through a child custody issue by helping you understand your rights under the law, by negotiating or mediating with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney, or representing you in litigating a dispute. At the Law Offices of Thomas C. Rowsey, our family law lawyers have considerable experience working with Roswell parents in all types of custody situations, and we have a thorough knowledge of Georgia’s family court system and rules. Our clients come from throughout Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb Counties, including communities such as Atlanta, Marietta, Sandy Springs, and Milton. If you need help with a child custody issue, contact Rowsey & Stelter at 770-993-5317 or use our online form to set up a consultation.