Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Newnan, GA Advises Parents on Child Custody Issues
Mark Mitchell works to establish fair terms for residence and visitation
When parents divorce, it is important to set up a custody arrangement that lets them share parental rights and responsibilities for the children’s benefit. At the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, Georgia, I provide comprehensive legal support for mothers and fathers in developing fair and workable parenting plans. I make a detailed review of each client’s situation to identify what arrangement best meets the child’s specific needs. When parents are willing to cooperate, suitable agreements can be often reached regarding physical and legal custody. When parents cannot agree, however, I prepare a thorough argument to the court in support of an appropriate order.
Accomplished family law firm pursues results that help children thrive
As an experienced divorce attorney, I help clients create parenting plans that cover such issues as where the child will live and how holidays will be handled. If both parties agree with the terms, the plan will likely be confirmed by the court. If not, the judge will make determinations on the various aspects of child custody, namely:
- Physical vs. legal custody — The parent with whom the child principally resides is deemed to have primary physical custody, though an agreement can provide for extensive sharing of this right with the other parent. Child support decisions are based in large part on physical custody arrangements. Legal custody means the right to make educational, medical, religious and other decisions concerning the child’s upbringing.
- Joint vs. sole custody — Depending on a number of circumstances, joint physical custody is usually granted, which means each parent is awarded a measure of residential time and/or visitation time with the child. Legal custody is typically jointly held, although one parent may be given the final say over certain issues. Sole custody, in which one parent has exclusive physical or legal custodial rights, is usually reserved for situations where the court perceives a danger to the child. Even then, limited or supervised visitation may be allowed.
Georgia law doesn’t favor mothers or fathers when issuing child custody orders, though mothers who are principal caregivers are generally awarded primary physical custody. Judges make their custody determinations based on what they consider to be in the children’s best interests, considering any information they believe to be pertinent. Factors include each parent’s ability to provide a suitable home environment and to meet the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
Knowledgeable advocate helps formulate visitation schedules
The courts prefer that the parents work out a workable visitation schedule. As a seasoned family lawyer, I can help you establish mutually acceptable visitation terms. A typical plan will give the noncustodial parent visitation every other weekend and on certain holidays, which can vary year to year. A plan can also provide for visitation during school recesses, including the summer months. Vacations and other family trips can also be covered. The parent with visitation rights is allowed to interact freely with the child, consistent with the schedule. However, if the court determines that visitation exposes the child to danger of abuse or inappropriate conduct, the court can require the visitation to be supervised by another adult or may prohibit visitation entirely.
What happens when a custodial parent relocates?
A custodial parent’s move out of state, or for a significant distance within Georgia, can impair the other parent’s ability to continue with the visitation schedule. For that reason, the parent seeking to move must obtain court permission or risk losing primary custody. A judge will decide whether or not the relocation is in the child’s best interest. A decision granting the request is more likely if the parent has a good reason for moving, like obtaining a better job or being closer to family. But those factors will be weighed against the possibility of causing harm to the child’s relationship with the other parent.
What visitation rights do grandparents have?
In Georgia, grandparents have the right to seek visitation in a court proceeding. A court will grant visitation if a denial would result in harm to the child’s health or welfare. Such harm can be shown in cases where the child resided with the grandparent for at least six months, where the grandparent provided financial support for the child for at least one year or where the grandparent has regularly visited or cared for the child.
Contact a skilled Georgia child custody lawyer for a free initial consultation
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC represents Georgia clients in child custody disputes and other family law matters. Please call 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation at my Newnan office.