Columbus Georgia Child Custody Lawyer
Child Custody in GA
If you are involved in a child custody case in the Columbus GA or Fort Benning GA area, then call the law offices of Scot Sikes. Mr. Sikes is an experienced child custody lawyer that fights hard for his client’s rights.
Who will get custody of our minor children?
Generally, the Georgia courts don’t favor one parent over another, and either the father or the mother could be awarded custody of your children.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on who should have custody of the children, your attorneys and the judge will make the decision for you. The goal of the judge and the court is to have a custody plan in place that is in the best interest of the minor children. Until the court makes this decision you and your spouse will probably share custody.
If a child is 14 years or older, they may be able to choose which parent they want to live with. Children under the age of 14 may be asked which parent they want to reside with, but the judge will consider many other things before making a final decision.
The ability of each of the parents to properly care and provide for the children is one the main factors the judge considers before rendering their decision on custody of any minor children.
Do I need a Georgia attorney for my child custody case?
If you and your spouse can’t agree on the issue of who should have custody of the minor children, you should both have your own attorneys. Sometimes the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent your child in the custody case.
If you are in a child custody case in the Columbus GA area, then call an experienced custody attorney at 1-866-494-6908 to protect your rights.
What is the difference between physical and legal custody?
If your house is the child’s primary residence, in other words, where the child spends the majority of their time, then you have physical custody. This means that you have the rights and obligation to make the everyday decisions for the child.
If the court granted you the right to make long-term decisions for any minor children, then you have legal custody. This means that you can determine what school your child attends, what church your child goes to, and what activities your child participates in. The legal custodian has the right and obligation to make any decisions that affect the significant aspects of the minor child’s life.
What is sole custody?
This means that you have both physical and legal custody of your minor child or children.
My ex-spouse and I were just awarded split custody of our children. What does that mean?
This is when two or more children are separated and each parent gets custody of one or more of the minor children. The judge will consider age, gender, the children’s preferences, etc. when they make a decision for split custody.
What exactly is joint custody?
When the judge awards joint custody, it means that you and your spouse share the custody of the minor children. There are two forms of joint custody; joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
If you and your spouse have joint legal custody, this means that you both have the same rights and responsibilities for all the major decisions in your children’s lives. Joint physical custody is when both parents have the same amount of time with the children, or at least 35 percent of the time with each parent.
As parents you will have to come to an agreement on how disputes will be handled if you can’t agree, or if one of you is not available and a decision has to be made. Any joint custody agreement will be reviewed in detail by the judge to make sure that the children’s best interests are being met. The judge will want to make sure that neither of you are attempting to use your children as pawns to gain other concessions in the divorce.
The judge can also toss out any joint custody agreement you and your spouse have agreed upon if they feel the best interests of the children are not being satisfied and the judge could come up with a child custody plan in place of the one you and your spouse agreed to.
If you are receiving any type of government assistance such as AFDC or Medical Assistance, you should talk to your social worker before any child custody agreement is made final by the court.
What court will hear my child custody case?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act applies to every state in the U.S. This Act requires that any matter of child custody must be heard in the court that has proper jurisdiction over the child. This means that the court in the county the child lives in has jurisdiction over your child custody case, but if the child has moved in the past six months, a court could decide that the country the child previously lived in has proper jurisdiction.
The formulas the courts use to determine jurisdiction in a child custody case are very complicated. The court will look at where each parent resides, where they work, pay taxes, votes, and where the child attends school. The court could also take into account where the child’s school and medical records are located.
If a child is in Georgia and has been abandoned or in need of emergency protection because the court feels the child may be being abused or neglected, the court in Georgia will handle the case.
Do I still have rights if I am not married to the child’s mother?
If the mother of your child and you are not married, the child belongs to the mother unless you want to sue for parental rights and can prove paternity. This is called a “filiation” suit. If the mother of the child does not contest that you’re the father, you can establish paternity orally or in writing without having to take a paternity test. You can establish paternity by marrying the mother and taking the child as your own. A filiation lawsuit is not required in order to seek custody of the child, but it may be necessary in cases where the mother of the child is contesting that you’re the father. An attorney can help you in this matter.
What are the factors the court looks at when determining who will get custody of my children?
When formulating a joint physical and legal custody plan that will be in the best interests of your minor children, the judge will look at a number of different factors. Some of the most common factors are:
1. Which parent is the primary caregiver. The primary caregiver to the children is the parent that dresses them, feeds them, bathes them, and cares for them the majority of the time.
2. Fitness. The court will look at which parent has the physical and psychological ability to be the best parent for the children. If your spouse or you have abused your children or any other children in the past, the judge may deem that parent to be unfit to have custody of the children.
3. Employment. If one of the parents works long hours or travels a lot for their job, the judge will take that into consideration.
4. Family relationships. The judge will look at each parent’s willingness to have the children maintain relationships with other family members such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. If one parent is constantly being disruptive when the other parent has the minor children, the judge will look at that very closely.
5. The home of the parents. The judge will take into consideration the living arrangements and living conditions of each parent’s place of residence, and the neighborhood each parent resides in. This will help the judge make a decision as to which home and neighborhood is in the best interest of the children.
6. The children’s ages, gender, and preferences. The judge may rule that because of a child’s age, gender, and health, that living with one parent over the other parent is in the best interest of the child. The judge could also consider the personal preference of the child when making their decision. An older child’s preferences may be given more weight than a younger child’s preferences. In the eyes of the court, a younger child may be considered too immature to make that type of important decision.
7. Previous child abandonment. If you or your spouse abandoned a child in the past, this will probably have a direct effect on the judge’s decision regarding joint legal and physical custody of the minor children.
Can my child custody order be changed?
The court hears cases everyday from parents wishing to modify their child custody agreements. To have your child custody agreement changed, you must be able to show the judge that there is a valid reason to do so. The judge’s main objective is to ensure that the best interests of the children are being maintained.
The judge wants to know that the safety and welfare of the child is paramount, and may be hesitant to change a child’s living environment without a very good reason.
Saying that the other parent’s house isn’t good enough will carry no weight with the judge. You must prove that something in the other parent’s home is having a negative impact on your child, and this situation has taken place since the original child custody order was issued.
If your child is 16 years old or older, they can petition the court to change the custody order but they have to show that this change of custody is in their own best interest.
The court that issued the original child custody agreement has jurisdiction over any changes to the original custody agreement. If the children have moved to another court’s jurisdiction, the changes to the original custody order could be made by the new court. However, if that move wasn’t approved by the court, and if the children were moved in direct violation of a court order, the court that originally issued the child custody agreement will have jurisdiction and could issue an order that the children be returned to the court’s jurisdiction.
Are my taxes affected by child custody?
If you have custody of your children, you may claim them as a dependent on your income tax. Sometimes the parents will decide to share claiming the children as dependents in alternating years. If you and your spouse want to do that, you need to complete a Form 8322 called a Release of Claim to Exemption and file it with the IRS. You cannot deduct child support from your income taxes.
Click here to read the Georgia Law on Child Custody
Cal, Scot Sikes, an experienced Columbus custody lawyer if you need representation in a Georgia custody case, or fill out the form at the right.