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Macon GA Custody Lawyer

If you are involved in a child custody case in the Macon GA area, then call the Macon Georgia - Warner Robins law offices of (Maconfirmname), an experienced child custody lawyer or fill out our feedback form.

 

There are many factors that the court considers when it comes to who will get custody of any minor children. The courts in Georgia don’t show favor over one parent or another. The judge will award custody based upon what they feel is in the best interest of the children.

 

Child Custody Basics

 

If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody of any minor children, your attorneys and the judge will work together to formulate a plan that is in the best interest of the children, not the parents.  Until the judge finalizes this plan, you and your spouse may share custody of the children.

Children that are aged 14 or above, they generally are allowed to choose which parent they prefer to live with. Children under the age of 14 may talk to the judge about which parent they want to live with, but the court will take other factors into consideration before deciding custody.

 

If you and your spouse cannot agree on which parent should have custody of the children and the terms of the custody, you and your spouse should each have your own attorney. In some cases, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child.

 

Physical and Legal Custody Defined

 

You have physical custody if the child lives with you and you have the right to make everyday  decisions for your child.

 

Legal custody means that you have the right and obligation to make long-term decisions for your child, such as where they will attend church and school. You also have the right to determine what sports or other activities your child will participate in.

 

If the court awarded you sole custody, it means that you have both physical and legal custody of your child or children.

 

Split Custody

 

If  the judge has awarded split custody, it means that two or more of your children will be split up and each parent will get custody of one of the children. The judge will take into account the children’s ages, gender, and their preferences before making a decision of split custody.

 

Joint Custody

 

In a joint custody agreement, both parents will share custody of any minor children. There are two types of joint custody; joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

 

Joint legal custody is when each parent has equal rights and responsibilities for all of the major decisions regarding the minor children.

 

Joint physical custody is when both parents have the same amount of time with the children, or at least 35 percent of the child’s time is spent with each parent.  Each case is different and the combination of joint physical and legal custody may be in the best interests of your child.

 

You and your spouse will have to come to some type of agreement on how disputes will be resolved if you can’t agree on a particular issue, or if one of you is unavailable when a decision has to be made. The court will require you and your spouse to complete this process.

 

The court will review any joint custody agreement to ensure that the best interests of the child are being met, and the child isn’t being used as a pawn by one of the parents to gain concessions in other areas of the divorce.

 

If you are receiving any form of government assistance such as AFDC or Medical Assistance, you should consult with your social worker before signing any final custody agreement.

 

Factors that Determine Custody

 

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.

 

Changing a Custody Order

 

Every year the court hears hundreds of cases brought by parents who desire a change in their custody orders. In order for the court to consider a change in the custody agreement, you will need to show that something in the other parent’s home environment is having a negative impact on your child that wasn’t there when the original custody order was written.

If a child is 16 years or older, they may petition the court on their own for a change in custody, but must also show the court that the change would be in their own best interest.

The court that issued the original child custody agreement has jurisdiction over any changes that are requested to that agreement. Sometimes the case can be moved to a different court if the child has moved to another court’s jurisdiction. However, if that child was moved in direct violation of a court order, the court could issue an order that the child be brought back into their jurisdiction.

 

Custody and Taxes

 

If you have custody of your minor child or children you can claim them as dependents on your income tax. Sometimes the parents will decide to share claiming the children as dependents in alternating years. If you want to do that, you will have to fill out a Form 8322 called a Release of Claim to Exemption and file it with the IRS.  You cannot deduct child support payments from your income tax.

 

If you are facing a child custody dispute, then contact an experienced family law attorney in Macon GA today.