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How to File for Child Custody in Georgia

As seen in the recent tragic case of Eric Forbes, a 12-year-old from Paulding County who may have been beaten to death by his father, parents often revisit custody decisions when circumstances change.

Since the boy's death, Forbes' mother has been trying to get custody of his younger sister, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Each state has its own rules about filing for child custody, and Georgia is no different.

How to File for Child Custody

To obtain modification of a custody order, a parent must make a request with the court and demonstrate that a significant change in circumstances has taken place since the original order.

If the two homes are thought to be equal, then custody will likely stay as it is in order to preserve the child's stability.

However, if the change has affected the best interests of the child -- for example, if the custodial parent has become unfit -- then a court might find that modification is appropriate. If the situation is serious, the court may consider the modification request on an emergency basis.

In Georgia, a parent requesting a change in custody will have to submit a new parenting plan proposal to the court.

Georgia law allows children over the age of 14 to petition the court to change custody. Once your child turns 11, his or her wishes can also be taken into account in your petition to modify custody.

How Custody Decisions Are Made

Like other states, family courts in Georgia make child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child.

Family courts in Georgia use the following factors to determine the best interests of the child :

  • The child's wishes;
  • The relationship between the parent and his/her child;
  • The relationship between the child and his/her siblings;
  • Each parent's ability to provide for the child (emotionally and financially);
  • The safety of the home environment;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • Each parent's employment schedule and flexibility to care for the child;
  • Each parent's willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the co-parent;
  • Each parent's involvement in the child's educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
  • Any evidence of domestic violence or abuse; and
  • Evidence of criminal activities.

Since every child custody modification case is different, you may want to consult with an experienced child custody lawyer to figure out your best options.

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