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Child Custody & Visitation

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Attorney Profiles

Child Custody & Visitation Lawyers

Let Our Divorce Attorneys Help You. Located in Suwanee.

When couples are going through a complex divorce involving child custody, unique considerations should be taken to ensure your child is protected. In an ideal world, parents should be able to separate their personal sentiments and do what is best for their child's overall growth and well-being. However, being emotional during a divorce or custody battle is a natural part of being a parent. That’s one of the reasons why complex child custody cases require the focus and support of experienced, compassionate legal professionals who understand what is at stake and how to protect your family.

The child custody lawyers at Oxendine & Sauls LLC have over 65 years of combined courtroom and litigation experience, which translates into their ability to help guide and calculate child support, as well as provide counsel on future modifications and enforcement of all agreements. Deciding where your children will reside after a divorce is not an easy situation to settle. It is a challenge that we are ready to help you through. Our goal is to ensure that you know your rights and feel empowered to make the best decisions for your child.

Types of Child Custody in Georgia

Child custody refers to the legal and practical rights over children after a divorce, including:

  • Physical custody: refers to where the child(ren) physically live the majority of the time. The parent with the most parenting time is known as the ‘primary physical custodian’. In a case where the children spend equal time with each parent, the parents are considered ‘joint physical’ parents.
  • Legal custody: refers to your right to act on behalf of the minor child, including the right to obtain the child’s medical and educational records, and otherwise act as their legal guardian. The vast majority of custody cases result in the parents sharing ‘joint legal custody’.
  • Final decision-making, or “tie breaking” authority: refers to the parent that makes authoritative decisions regarding matters of health, education, extracurricular, and religious decisions.

To learn more about your rights as a parent, contact us! We have the knowledge and experience to help you through. 

Child Custody and GA Courts

The child custody laws in Georgia are gender neutral. Either parent has the opportunity to present their case to the courts for sole, physical or legal custody without gender bias. There is no special treatment for mothers, and fathers are encouraged to request custody if desired. The standard by which the Court rules is the “best interests of the child” standard.

In special cases where parents cannot agree on custody, or have an extremely challenging relationship, the court may require a custody evaluation, or even appoint a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed solely to represent the children and to assist the Court in determining what is in the best interests of the children.

In some situations, third parties including grandparents or someone other than the child’s biological parents may gain custody of the child, or visitation rights to the child, if it is determined to be in the best interest of the child. These situations typically occur in cases where there is abuse, neglect or if both parents are unfit; or in some cases if one parent is deployed in the military.

Georgia Courts will Consider the Following When Determining Custody:
  • The child's wishes (if the child is at least 11)
  • Parent's mental and physical health
  • Parent work schedule and flexibility to care for child
  • Relationship between child and siblings
  • Parent ability to financially provide for child
  • Safety of home environment
  • Parent willingness to encourage a relationship between child and the other parent
  • Living proximity between parent and child
  • Relationship between parent and child
  • Parent involvement in child's educational, social and extracurricular activities
  • Evidence of domestic violence or abuse
  • Evidence of criminal activity

Child Custody VS. Parenting Time

In negotiating a divorce settlement, or in preparing for a divorce hearing, you should understand the difference between custody (legal and physical), final decision-making authority, and parenting time.

Most parties share joint legal custody. This simply allows both parents the rights to act at the child’s guardian, to obtain documents of behalf of the child, and have legal custodial rights to the child. Physical custody will be awarded to either one parent being the primary physical custodian (having a majority of the total parenting time) and the other having secondary physical custody (having anywhere from 20%-49% of the total parenting time) – or – with the parties sharing joint physical custody (where the parties share equal, 50/50 parenting time).

Final Decision Making or Tie-breaking Authority is when, after good faith discussions to reach an agreement, the parties remain unable to agree. Then one parent has the right to be the tie-breaker, or make the final decision regarding that decision. There are 4 categories of decision making authority (1) education; (2) non-emergency medical; (3) extracurricular activities; (4) religious upbringing. One parent may be awarded all 4 categories, or the categories may be divided where one parent has 3 and the other has 1, or an even divide with each parent being awarded 2 categories.

Parenting Time describes the actual schedule for when the child is with which parent. ‘Standard Parenting Time’ is every other weekend, with an equal division of Holidays and each party being awarded 2 full weeks in the summer. However, the parenting time may be divided any way the parties choose, with the non-custodial parent being awarded anywhere from 20% – 49% of the parenting time. In general, both parties are usually happier with an arrangement agreed upon by the parties, as opposed to one ordered by the Court!

Protect Your Child's Rights in a Custody Battle

When facing litigation, the stakes are high and your child’s future hangs in the balance. We can guide you through the treacherous legal waters and protect your interests. At Oxendine & Sauls, our tenacious and diligent divorce lawyers draw from decades of trial-tested and proven experience helping families through some of the toughest times of their lives. Whether you are facing custody litigation in Suwanee, or surrounding regions, we're here for you.

Contact us at (770) 497-8688 to learn more to get custody of your child and protect your parental rights. Get started today and request your consultation! We have two offices located in Suwanee for your convenience.