couple on a date

Can Dating Affect Child Custody in Georgia?

If you are a parent going through a divorce, you should think twice before you start dating. Although it may be tempting to begin your search for a new partner, you should consider the potential impact it might have on child custody. Below are the ways that dating can affect child custody in Georgia. 

Dating Can Complicate Things

When you begin dating someone before your divorce is final, the court must consider the effect of this individual’s presence in the lives of your children. The outcome of this analysis can affect the court’s child custody decision, and there is a chance that it may not be in your favor. 

Dating Can Impact Your Kids

Any time you bring someone new into your children’s lives, they are impacted. Of course, this impact can be either positive or negative. Courts understand this. Therefore, as noted above, if you decide to date before your divorce is final, the court will examine the impact of this new person on your children. If the court determines that your new partner will have a negative impact on your kids, it will act accordingly. 

Dating Can Affect Co-parenting

If the new person in your life has a negative effect on your ability to co-parent with your ex-spouse, the court will consider this when making a custody decision in your case. The court must make decisions that are in the best interests of your children, so it will err on the side of caution if it determines that your new partner is interfering with your children’s relationship with your ex.   

Other Ways Dating Can Affect Your Divorce

In addition to child custody issues, dating can have an effect on your overall divorce case. If you begin dating before your divorce is final, it can be problematic for your case. Courts sometimes frown upon the involvement of outside parties, such as new boyfriends or girlfriends, in divorce cases. If you plan on getting a divorce in Georgia, you should keep in mind what’s important—the safety and happiness of your children. If this means foregoing dating for a few months until your kids have had an opportunity to adjust to the divorce, you should strongly consider doing so. Ultimately, if you’re considering dating during your divorce, you should carefully consider the impact that your new relationship may have on the court’s decisions regarding your relationship with your children. 

Contact a Georgia Child Custody Attorney Today

If you need assistance with a child custody issue in Georgia, you should contact an experienced Georgia child custody attorney as soon as possible. At Carter Pilgrim, our experienced child custody attorney will work diligently to ensure that your relationship with your child is protected. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to fight to protect your special bond with your child. Please contact us today for a consultation. 

split house, child custody

The Impact of Drug Use on Child Custody in Georgia

Allegations of drug use in a Georgia child custody case can complicate an already difficult situation. Although some states have loosened their prohibitions on drugs like marijuana, drug use allegations can have a big impact on the way courts make child custody decisions in Georgia. Below is an overview of the impact drug use can have on child custody in Georgia. 

A Delicate Balance

In each Georgia child custody case, the court is tasked with determining what is in the best interests of the child. Therefore, when a parent in a child custody case is a drug user or has been accused of using drugs, the court has a tough decision to make. It must balance the effect the parent’s drug use may have on the safety of the child with the child’s right to have a relationship with both of his or her parents. 

How Courts Make Child Custody Decisions in Georgia

A parent’s drug use is just one of the factors the court analyzes when making child custody decisions in Georgia. Generally, the more severe a parent’s drug issue, the greater it will affect the court’s child custody decision. Factors that Georgia courts examine when making child custody decisions include: 

  • The mental health of the parents.
  • The physical health of the parents.
  • The parents’ involvement in their child’s life.
  • The bond between the parents and child.
  • The capacity of each parent to provide the child with necessities.
  • Each parent’s history of caring for the child.
  • The criminal history of each parent.
  • Evidence of substance abuse by either parent.
  • Whether a parent’s drug use has ever placed the child in harm’s way.

Child Custody Cases Involving Parental Drug Use 

The court has several options in child custody cases involving parental drug use. One option that the court has is to award primary physical custody to the non-using parent. In such a case, the other parent would likely have supervised parenting time with a graduated plan to eventually allow for unsupervised parenting time. However, this is just one of many possible outcomes. In order to get a realistic assessment of the possible outcomes in your Georgia child custody case, you should contact a Georgia child custody attorney as soon as possible. 

Contact a Georgia Child Custody Attorney Today

If you need help with a child custody issue involving drug use by either parent, you should contact an experienced Georgia child custody attorney as soon as possible. At Carter Pilgrim, regardless of whether you or your ex are struggling with a drug problem, our experienced child custody attorney will work diligently to ensure that you and your child get the help you need. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to fight for you and your child. Please contact us today for a consultation. 

mother explaining child custody to daughter

Common Child Custody and Support Misconceptions

Child custody and child support are complicated issues. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people tend to have misconceptions about these topics. People who rely on friends and family for information on child custody and child support often do so to their detriment. Even people who have gone through the divorce process are often confused about the laws governing these issues. 

Below are some of the most common misconceptions about child custody and child support in Georgia. For additional information on child custody and support in Georgia, you should contact a Georgia child custody attorney

Misconception 1: Only the court makes custody decisions 

When parents can’t agree on how to share custody, the court makes this decision for them. However, parents who agree on a custody arrangement may cooperatively draft a parenting plan that addresses this issue. Family law judges usually agree to such plans. However, judges are required to keep the best interests of the child in mind when making custody decisions, so a judge may reject a proposed parenting plan if it appears determinantal to the child. 

Misconception 2: Child support amounts are reached arbitrarily 

Divorcing couples often believe that courts reach child support amounts arbitrarily. This isn’t the case. Family law judges calculate child support amounts based on set formulas that consider the following variables: 

  • The combined income of the parents,
  • The amount of income contributed by each parent,
  • The number of children needing financial support, and
  • Whether there are any special expenses associated with raising the children.

Misconception 3: Court orders can’t be altered

Although parents often believe that court orders involving child support and child custody are permanent, this isn’t true—both types of orders may be legally modified. In Georgia, parents may seek a modification of a custody order when there has been a substantial change in circumstances warranting such a change. And modification of a child support order is allowed when there is a material change in the needs of the child or either parent’s income. 

Misconception 4: Child custody and child support are intertwined

Since child custody and child support both involve children, some parents believe that they are legally intertwined. In other words, some parents have the false belief that one parent’s failure to provide child support gives the other parent the right to withhold custody, and vice versa. However, even if one parent fails to comply in either of these areas, the other parent is still required to fulfill his or her obligations.

Contact a Georgia Child Custody Attorney 

If you need assistance with a child custody matter in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia child custody attorney on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, our experienced child custody attorney will work diligently to protect your relationship with your child. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that your parental rights are protected. Please contact us today for a consultation. 

woman with unborn baby

Child Custody for Unwed Fathers of Unborn Children

In Georgia child custody cases, both parents are treated equally by the courts. In other words, courts don’t automatically favor mothers over fathers in child custody matters. However, when the parents of an unborn child are unmarried, things are different. When an unborn child’s father isn’t married to the expectant mother, the father must take certain steps to ensure that he retains his legal rights to his child. If you are the unwed father of an unborn child in Georgia, below is an overview of the steps you can take to protect your relationship with your child. 

Take a Paternity Test

First, as an unwed father, you should immediately seek to establish paternity to ensure that your rights as a father are protected. Tests are available to establish paternity before the birth of the child. However, the child’s mother isn’t required to submit to this testing. If the mother of your unborn child isn’t cooperative, you may file a legitimation action while the mother is pregnant. This action asks the court to require genetic testing of the child at birth. After birth, another way to establish paternity is to obtain a court order declaring that you are the child’s biological father.

Attend the Child’s Birth

As an unwed father in Georgia, you don’t have the right to witness the birth of your child if the mother denies you permission. However, you should ask the mother’s permission to attend the birth, as your presence at the child’s birth will demonstrate to the court that you are committed to remaining in your child’s life. In addition, if you attend your child’s birth, you may be given the opportunity to sign an acknowledgment of paternity, which can later be used to prove that you are the child’s father.

Provide the Mother with Financial Support

Finally, if you are the father of an unborn child in Georgia, you should provide some financial support to your child’s mother during the pregnancy. However, in order for this to benefit you, you should avoid paying the mother in cash, and you should keep detailed records of the support given. In addition to money, financial support can include items such as diapers, a crib, baby clothes, a car seat, and other items for the child. Financial support during pregnancy provides evidence of your involvement in the unborn child’s life, and it helps lower the odds that the court will award the mother certain costs in a later child support action.

Contact a Georgia Child Custody Attorney 

Finally, if you are an unwed father who wishes to protect your relationship with your unborn child, you need an experienced Georgia child custody attorney on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, our experienced child custody attorney will work diligently to protect your relationship with your unborn child. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to fight for your legal rights as a father. Please contact us today for a consultation. 

Mother and child

When to Hire a Child Custody Lawyer in Georgia

If you’re facing a child custody issue in Georgia, you probably have lots of questions. A common decision faced by parents in Georgia is whether to hire a child custody lawyer to assist with legal issues involving child custody. Although many people would prefer to work things out without an attorney, most child custody issues require the assistance of an attorney to ensure that the parent/child relationship is protected. Below is an overview of when to hire a child custody lawyer in Georgia

When should you hire a child custody lawyer?

Your Ex Has a Lawyer

If your ex has hired an attorney, you will be at a disadvantage in your child custody case if you don’t do the same. The legal system is far too complicated to try to navigate on your own, particularly if your ex has legal representation. If you don’t hire an attorney, your ex will have the upper hand in your Georgia child custody case. 

Your Case Is Complicated

Even relatively “simple” child custody cases can quickly become complicated depending on the circumstances. If your Georgia child custody case begins to increase in complexity, you need to hire a Georgia child custody lawyer. 

Your Child Is in Danger 

If your child is in danger, you should immediately alert the authorities. Next, in order to ensure that your child remains safe, you should contact a Georgia child custody attorney to discuss your situation. When you believe your child is at risk, a Georgia child custody attorney can initiate legal action to ensure that he or she is protected from harm. 

Your Ex Wants to Keep Your Child From You 

If your ex is attempting to keep you from seeing your child, you should contact a Georgia child custody attorney. Typical signs of this include frequent last-minute visitation cancellations and total denials of contact. When your ex refuses to allow you to see your child, this is probably a violation of your parenting plan, and the court should be made aware of this behavior immediately.

You Circumstances Have Changed

Finally, if the circumstances in your situation have changed significantly since your divorce, you should hire an attorney to review your case. Significant changes include relocation, remarriage, and cohabitation with a new spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. All of these changes require legal review by an experienced Georgia child custody attorney. 

Contact an Experienced Georgia Child Custody Attorney Today 

If you are dealing with a child custody issue in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia child custody attorney on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, our experienced child custody attorney will guide you through the child custody process and work diligently to protect your relationship with your child. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to obtain the results you desire in your Georgia child custody case. Please contact us today for a consultation. 

Son with his father at the beach.

Parental Alienation in Georgia Divorce Cases

Divorce can be extremely tough on families. It can be particularly difficult for children. However, when both parents approach divorce in a cooperative, positive way, much of the pain associated with divorce can be alleviated. Unfortunately, though, parents sometimes behave in ways that are unproductive and harmful. One example is a process called parental alienation. Parental alienation is common, and it can cause tremendous harm to children. Below is an overview of what parental alienation is and how it affects children. For additional help, please contact a Georgia divorce attorney

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is a form of abuse in which one parent manipulates his or her child into having negative feelings about the other parent. Parental alienation can cause a child to fear, hate, and resent the parent who is the target of the practice. Georgia doesn’t have any laws that specifically address parental alienation. However, evidence of parental alienation by a parent can be used by the other parent to support a claim for custody, parenting time, or supervised visitations. There are a number of behaviors that can be categorized as forms of parental alienation, and a parent will often use several of them in combination in order to inflict the maximum damage possible on the relationship between the child and other parent. Parental alienation can take the form of any of the following behaviors: 

  •  Convincing the child that the other parent doesn’t love him or her
  •  Speaking poorly about the other parent in the child’s presence
  •  Reducing the frequency of contact between the child and the other parent
  •  Forcing the child to choose one parent over the other
  •  Going to extremes to win the child’s love
  •  Forcing the child to speak poorly about the other parent 

How Parental Alienation Harms Children 

Parental alienation is a form of psychological abuse. Unfortunately, however, parents who take actions that constitute parental alienation rarely consider the effect that this behavior can have on their children. And although people who witness this type of behavior often understand that it is harmful, most fail to recognize it as a form of abuse that can result in serious psychological damage. In fact, parental alienation can result in low self-esteem, mood disorders, self-loathing,  and even substance abuse when a child gets older. 

Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney 

If you believe your ex is alienating you from your children, you need an experienced Georgia family law attorney on your side. Whether you want a divorce or need assistance with another family law issue, Carter/Pilgrim is here for you. At Carter/Pilgrim, our experienced family law attorney will guide you through the legal process and work diligently to ensure that your legal goals are achieved. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to obtain the results you desire in your Georgia family law case. Please contact us today for a consultation. 

Mother holding child's hand, explaining divorce.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

Divorce is tough on children. In order to alleviate some of this difficulty, Georgia courts try to ensure that the children of divorce maintain strong relationships with both of their parents. One way courts in Georgia do this is through parenting plans. Below is an overview of parenting plans in Georgia. For additional assistance, please contact a Georgia family law attorney

The Parts of a Parenting Plan

Custody details – Parenting plans in Georgia contain information about the parents’ custody arrangement, including who has primary physical custody of the child. When a parent has primary physical custody, the child lives with that parent. Parenting plans also assign legal custody to one of the parents, which allows one parent to make certain decisions concerning the child, including decisions about education, medical care, and extracurricular activities. 

Visitation – Visitation, also called parenting time, is the time that a parent without primary physical custody spends with his or her child. Visitation usually follows a predetermined schedule that is created based on the needs of the family. Visitation schedules are determined based on considerations like:

  • School schedules
  • Work schedules
  • Extracurricular activities

Parenting Plan Tips 

Parenting plans should be designed with children’s best interests in mind. Therefore, both parents should always keep the needs of their children in mind when following a parenting plan. Below are some tips for making a parenting plan a success.

Keep the focus on the children – Parents should always keep the needs of their children at the forefront when following a parenting plan. One way to do this is to avoid arguing in front of the children about the parenting plan. 

Communicate – Since parenting plans are intended to benefit children, both parents should maintain an open and honest line of communication with one another regarding the plan. Maintaining a spirit of cooperation can help ensure that a parenting plan is effective.

Maintain consistency – Finally, children need consistency and stability in their lives, especially after their parents have divorced. Therefore, both parents should adhere to the parenting plan and not attempt to make frequent changes to the children’s schedules. In addition, both parents should establish similar rules in their households for the children to follow. 

Contact a Georgia Family Law Attorney 

If you need assistance with a family law issue in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia family law attorney on your side. Whether you need assistance with a parenting plan or would like to initiate the divorce process, Carter/Pilgrim is here for you. At Carter/Pilgrim, our experienced family law attorney will guide you through the Georgia family law system and work diligently to ensure that your legal goals are achieved. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to obtain the results you desire in your Georgia family law case. Please contact us today for a consultation.

Father with child custody of his daughter playing on the trampoline.

Child Custody in Georgia

Going through a divorce when you have children can be difficult. As a parent, issues like custody and visitation rights will likely be among your top concerns in your Georgia divorce. Therefore, before you start the divorce process, it’s important that you have a good understanding of how courts make child custody decisions in Georgia. Below is an overview of child custody in Georgia. For additional information, please contact an experienced Georgia child custody attorney as soon as possible. 

How Georgia Courts Make Custody Decisions 

Georgia courts are required to make custody decisions that are in children’s best interests. In order to determine what is in a child’s best interests, judges in Georgia child custody cases examine several factors, including: 

  •  Each parent’s ability to provide for the child  
  •  The motives of each parent to obtain custody 
  •  Each parent’s schedule 
  •  Each parent’s health (mental, emotional, and physical) 
  •  Each parent’s level of education 
  •  Each parent’s desire to have a relationship with the child

The Four Types of Child Custody in Georgia

There are four types of child custody in Georgia: 

  1. Sole physical custody – When a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives only with that parent.
  2. Joint physical custody – Joint physical custody allows a child to spend time living with both parents.
  3. Sole legal custody –  With sole legal custody, only one parent has the authority to make decisions for the child, such as medical and educational decisions.
  4. Joint legal custody – Joint legal custody permits both parents to make decisions for their child.

As long as it is in the best interests of the child, courts generally prefer joint custody, as this ensures that a child will spend time with both parents. Courts also prefer to grant joint legal custody to parents, as this gives both parents the power to make important decisions for their child. Of course, if other factors prohibit such an arrangement, courts will grant sole legal custody to the parent that is best suited to make decisions on behalf of the child. In addition, even if the parents have joint legal custody, it is common for one parent to have final decision-making authority in situations where parents can’t agree on a decision jointly. Sometimes, each parent will have final decision-making authority in different categories of decisions that affect the child. For example, one parent may have the final say in health-related matters while the other may have final decision-making authority regarding the child’s education. Finally, even if one parent has sole physical custody, visitation is almost always permitted unless it presents some sort of danger to the child.

Contact Our Georgia Child Custody Attorney 

If you need assistance with child custody in Georgia, it’s imperative that you have an experienced Georgia child custody attorney on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, we understand how difficult divorce can be on children. When you become our client, attorney Amy Carter will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome in your Georgia divorce case while preserving your parental rights and protecting your children’s best interests. Please contact us today for a consultation.