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Leave nothing to chance in a Georgia child custody hearing

There's nothing more important to you than your kids. And when you split with the co-parent of your children, child custody undoubtedly will be at the top of your mind.

You likely will face a child custody hearing, whether you want sole or joint custody of your children. Before you walk into that Georgia courtroom, you should be prepared for what you will encounter.

You and your ex will find the process easier if you have created a parenting plan that covers a variety of issues. Those issues include:

  • Where the children will live, such as with you during the week and your ex on the weekends, or one week on and one week off with each parent
  • Where the children will spend school vacations and holidays
  • How and when children will be exchanged between parents
  • How often parents can communicate with kids when they are in the other's care

If you and your ex are not on good terms and can't come up with an acceptable agreement for a judge's approval, the judge will have to make such decisions. The judge is charged with acting in the best interest of your children in awarding custody. In Georgia, this decision is final unless there exists what the state calls "a significant change in family circumstance."

The judge has the discretion to award either joint custody or sole custody. With joint custody, no matter what the day-to-day living arrangements, parents will make decisions together about important matters such as the kids' medical care, education and religion. With sole custody, the non-custodial parent can receive visitation rights but won't have any legal authority to act on the child's behalf.

Georgia law allows children, once they turn 14 -- roughly high school age -- to choose who they'd like to live with and request a change of custody. Otherwise, custody and visitation may be revisited only once every two years unless a family's situation changes considerably.

When it comes to the custody of your kids, leave nothing to chance. Before heading into a custody hearing, it would be wise to consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your circumstances. Please contact our firm for more information about how we might be able to help you.

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