Question

What Child Custody Rights Does A Father Have In An Atlanta, Georgia, Divorce?

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Kristal Holmes - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Kristal Holmes

Located in Johns Creek, GAMeriwether & Tharp LLC

Johns Creek, GA
Phone: 678-506-1173
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Answer

Many people believe that courts have a bias against fathers during child custody proceedings. Under Georgia law, however, parents share the same custody rights, regardless of their gender.

Courts will not award custody simply because one parent wants it more than the other. The judge will make a custody decision based on what is in the best interests of your child, and it is not uncommon for fathers to receive joint or sole custody in a divorce.

Determining What Is In The Best Interests Of Your Child

During the proceedings, a judge will scrutinize your behavior, lifestyle, finances and relationship with your child. Custody decisions are not made lightly, and every factor must be considered to ensure the emotional and physical well-being of your child.

In Georgia, the following factors can influence custody rulings:

  • A history of domestic violence and other criminal convictions
  • Mental and physical health of both parents and the child
  • The child’s preference, if the child is at least age 11
  • The relationship each parent has with their child
  • The parents’ abilities to meet the child’s basic needs such as providing food, shelter, clothing, and access to education and medical care

If you or your child’s other parent was absent in their life prior to the proceedings, this will certainly affect the decision. While prior certain criminal convictions may be considered, a criminal past does not always bar a parent from obtaining sole, joint legal or physical custody.

Keep in mind that you can modify child custody orders if there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances.

Family Law Attorneys Are Worth The Investment 

Understanding your rights throughout the custody process is crucial. Some parents forego hiring an attorney and, depending on the complexity of issues, struggle to successfully negotiate custody terms. It can be especially valuable to hire an attorney if your child’s other parent has a lawyer.

It is not uncommon for custody battles to become contentious and result in parents leveraging personal attacks on one another. Conversations can become unproductive and draw out the process. Anger, resentment and other emotions often lead to irrational and even erratic behavior. Attorneys, however, can prevent hostility from affecting negotiations and focus on what is in the best interests of your child. 

Do not succumb to the belief that you will be unable to obtain custody as a father. Both mothers and fathers have equal rights in custody proceedings, and an attorney can help explain the process in greater detail.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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