Navigating child custody laws can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to understand “How a father can get full custody in Georgia?”.
As a family law attorney with experience in father’s rights, I’d like to shed some light on this process. Let’s break down the complex legal jargon about custody and father’s rights in Georgia into straightforward information that you can understand and use.
Child Custody Laws in Georgia
In Georgia, the paramount concern of the court is always the best interest of the child. This means that regardless of the parent’s gender, the court will focus on which parent is most capable of providing a nurturing, stable environment for the child.
Factors such as the child’s age, each parent’s physical and mental health, and the existing relationship between the parent and child are considered.
Therefore, just because you’re a “great” parent, doesn’t mean that the court will put the children with you versus the mother, if she is also a “great” parent.
But, the court will look at the factors stated above, along with the child’s wishes. If the child is 14 or older, they’ll be able to tell the court which parent they’d like to live with most of the time (or if they’d like to do a 50/50 split between their parents), and the courts in Georgia will listen to them, taking their preferences into consideration when deciding custody.
Georgia Laws on Child Custody with Unmarried Parents
When it comes to unmarried parents, Georgia law still places the child’s best interests at the forefront. The mother is initially given primary custody rights if the parents are not legally married. And the unmarried father only has the right to pay child support to the mother for support of their child – he has no rights to visitation or custody.
However, the father can file a legitimation petition to establish legal paternity and seek custody or visitation rights. Just know that these rights are not automatic for unmarried fathers, and you must be proactive in finding an attorney to help you with the process, if you want to be involved in your child’s life.
We encourage unmarried fathers to file this legitimation action right away – especially if you are still in a relationship with the child’s mother. This will save lots of time and energy, should your relationship with the mother ever end, or should something tragic ever happen to the mother.
Sole Custody in Georgia
Sole custody refers to one parent having both legal and physical custody of a child.
In Georgia, this means that the custodial parent has the exclusive right to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious training. The parent also provides the primary residence for the child.
The other parent loses their rights to visit with and make important decisions in their child’s life – though they may still retain the right to pay child support to the sole custodial parent.
It’s important to note that sole custody is not granted lightly and typically occurs only if one parent is deemed unfit, or it is in the child’s best interest.
How to File for Full Custody in GA
Filing for full custody in Georgia involves several steps.
First, you need to file a petition for custody in the county where the child resides. This petition should outline why you believe it’s in the child’s best interest for you to have full custody.
After filing, the other parent gets to file a response, stating why you should or should not have full custody.
Then, you both will attend a hearing where you’ll present your case to the judge, and the other parent will present his or her case. Remember, you must provide compelling evidence that supports your request for full custody. The judge will make the decision based on the best interests of the child, whether or not to grant or deny a full custody request.
Full custody granted to one parent is not common in Georgia, because most parents do not reach the “unfit” or “harmful” thresh hold where the courts would take away their rights and grant them only to the other parent.
However, it does still happen – and if you think that this applies to your situation and you want to pursue full custody, talk with an experienced local family law attorney, to see what your options are.
What Are the Chances of a Father Getting Full Custody
Historically, mothers were often favored in custody battles. However, times have changed, and courts now recognize the critical role that fathers play in their children’s lives.
If a father can demonstrate that he is the best fit to care for and meet the child’s needs, he stands a good chance of being granted full custody.
Evidence of a strong bond with the child, a stable living situation, and willingness to facilitate a relationship with the other parent can all strengthen a father’s case.
One other point that must be shown to the court is that the mother is not a fit parent – otherwise, while the court may still grant primary custody to the father, the court may still leave mother with some custody and visitation rights.
How to Get Custody of a Child Without Going to Court
Obtaining custody without going to court is ideal but may not always be possible.
Mediation or collaborative law are two methods that allow parents to negotiate custody arrangements outside of court.
These methods require cooperation and a mutual desire to reach an agreement that serves the child’s best interests.
If you and the other parent cannot agree on a custody arrangement, then the only other option is to go to court, to ask the judge to make the final call.
Remember, understanding the legal landscape is crucial when pursuing full custody.
If you’re a father seeking full custody in Georgia, we strongly recommend consulting with a lawyer who specializes in family law. They can guide you through the process, helping to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected.