Seeking a Custody Agreement or Modification?
WE SHARE YOUR CONCERN FOR YOUR CHILD’S WELL-BEING.
With decades of experience in family law, our Marietta child custody attorneys work closely with clients on each step of their divorce or custody issue. We understand the toll that separation and uncertainty can take on families. That’s why we use our knowledge of Georgia laws to protect you and your children’s legal and financial interests.
From amicable plans to negotiating an equitable child custody arrangement and beyond, the Gentry Law Firm is ready to help you begin the next chapter of your life.
Our Marietta Custody Lawyers Offer:
- A Free, 30-Minute Consult
- Respected Representation
- Clear Communication – Calls Returned Within 24 Hours
- Skilled Negotiators Focused on Your Interests
- Experienced and Compassionate Paralegals and Support Staff
- Courtroom-Tested Litigators Advocating for You
Get Answers About:
- Temporary & Emergency Custody
- Mothers' Rights
- Fathers' Rights
- Grandparents’ Rights
- Paternity & Legitimation
- Custody Modifications
- Custody Enforcement
- Protection Orders
- LGBTQ Issues
Georgia Child Custody Laws
WE DEFEND YOUR PARENTAL RIGHTS & KEEP YOU INFORMED.
Based in Marietta, GA, our team works closely with you to understand you and your children’s unique custody needs. We thoroughly explain your options while helping you reach a custody solution in your child’s best interests.
Types of Custody in Georgia
Under Georgia law (Georgia Code § 19-9-3), there are two categories of child custody: legal and physical custody.
In general, the state prefers that children have a joint legal custody arrangement (also known as a parenting plan).
Legal custody refers to the right to decide the children’s upbringing, with regard to choices about the children’s school, health care, religious education, and extracurricular activities.
Physical custody indicates where the children live most of the time. One parent is typically the primary physical custodian, while the other has regular visitation (known as parenting time) unless physical custody is split 50/50.
Either parent may request a temporary custody hearing while the divorce is in progress. The Court will implement custody, visitation, and support orders at the hearing that remain in effect until the final order.
Emergency Custody Hearing
Sometimes divorce and the related proceedings can turn ugly or there is a history of domestic violence. In these cases, you can file for an emergency hearing and follow specific procedures, like those required by Cobb County. You do not have to hire a lawyer to seek an emergency hearing, but it can help you avoid errors or delays.
Best Interests of the Child Doctrine
Georgia courts prefer that parents reach an amicable child custody arrangement. When a couple cannot agree, a Judge makes a custody decision based on the state’s “Best Interests of the Child” doctrine.
This legal framework helps determine the most beneficial outcome for your children.
The Best Interests of the Child Considers:
- Each parent’s wishes
- Whether or not each parent is willing to support the child’s relationship with the other parent
- Which parent the child wants to live with (depending on age)
- The quality of the child’s interactions with their parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and other key people in their lives
- The child’s ties to their home, school, and community
- The physical and mental health of both parents
- Whether either parent has a history of violence or abuse.
Length of Custody
Custody orders typically stay in place until the child turns 18 unless either parent seeks a modification for changed circumstances.
The conditions for seeking a modified child custody plan include the death of the primary parent, job loss, or disability, among other things.
01 / 05
I would like to thank Mr. William Gentry and his great staff for giving me excellent service with my case. This law firm made this very difficult time more comfortable than I had ever expected. I highly recommend Gentry Law Firm for any of your family law issues. Again thanks to you and your staff!!!
02 / 05
"Thank you for your hard work, caring for your clients, your prayers and kindness. This has been a long hard road but we look forward to the day we can start a new chapter. Again thank you."
WC Client, February 2020, 2022
03 / 05
Bill, you and your staff have been so kind and professional and made me feel like I was not just "a number". I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the settlement. Thank you!
NJ - 12/21/18, 2022
04 / 05
I want to thank you for your very hard work and time spent on my case the last two years. I truly appreciate all your efforts and kindness that you have extended.
(LD November 2018), 2022
05 / 05
Bill and staff were wonderful to work with. Great attention was taken into consideration for my sensitive case. They made a very difficult time in my life much smoother. His advice was great. Always a quick response. I would definitely recommend.
Your Rights & Child Custody Options
YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN WON’T BE BULLIED.
Too often, children become pawns in a divorce power play. We don’t like to see vulnerable adults and kids pushed around or pressured into unfair agreements. The Gentry Law Firm helps ensure child custody arrangements are in your and your kids’ best interests.
Custody for Unmarried Parents
In Georgia, an unwed mother has sole legal and physical custody. The father must establish paternity to pursue custody or visitation through a legal process called legitimation.
Children should have love and attention from both parents when possible, but a name on a birth certificate alone does not constitute parenting. We use all available legal instruments to preserve your parental rights from an absentee parent.
Protective orders help provide safety for victims of domestic violence and their children. They are not intended to manipulate child custody decisions. A Marietta child custody lawyer can petition the court to issue temporary protective orders without the alleged abuser being present.
These injunctions can establish temporary physical custody of the child and order the alleged abuser to vacate the family home.
If you or your children are in danger from an abusive spouse, call 9-1-1. Contact the Gentry Law Firm to discuss what’s next once you’re safe.
Relocation with Minor Children
When a primary physical custodial parent wishes to move out of Georgia, they must notify the other parent in writing at least 30 days prior. If both parents consent, you must file a modification agreement with the court.
If your spouse has primary physical custody and wants to move, our child custody lawyers can petition the court for a custody modification hearing. We will present your case and advocate on your behalf.
Guardian ad Litem
If both parents want primary physical custody and substantive issues are involved, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to protect the children’s interests. A Guardian evaluates both parents and reviews relevant information to make a custody recommendation to the court.
The Georgia Child Custody Process & Timeline
YOU’LL NEVER FEEL ALONE WITH THE GENTRY LAW FIRM.
Petitions for child custody are included in your divorce filing. You (or your lawyer) file in the superior court in the county where the child lives (for example, Cobb County residents would file in Cobb Superior Court).
Once You File for Custody:
- The other parent is served and allowed to respond.
- If there is no emergency motion, the first court hearing occurs in about four to six weeks.
- Some counties require a parenting seminar before child custody arrangements are finalized.
- Depending on the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement, the need for mediation, the discovery phase, and court appearances, it could take 120 days or more.
It is always in the child’s best interests when parents put aside their issues and focus on parenting. But the time it takes to resolve a child custody issue depends on the facts, circumstances, and the parties’ ability to cooperate.
Frequently Asked Child Custody Questions?
Can a Child Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With?
Children aged 14 or older can state which parent they want to live with. In many cases, a child’s wishes are respected. The Court may refuse if they believe that it is not in the child’s best interests or if there is evidence of coercion by one of the parents.
Are Child Custody Laws the Same for LGBTQ Parents?
LGBTQ parents have the same rights as non-LGBTQ parents. However, sometimes only one parent in an LGBTQ marriage has a biological connection to a child. Georgia recently passed an Equitable Caregiver law to ensure that positive relationships continue with the non-biological parent.
Can Grandparents Seek Custody?
Grandparents can seek temporary custody of grandchildren when the parents cannot care for their children. The Court would reassess the situation to determine permanent custody based on the parents’ change in circumstances, grandparents’ health and ability to provide full-time care, and other factors.
What Does a Marietta Child Custody Lawyer Cost?
When parents cannot reach an agreement, costs rise. We can seek alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, that is less costly and more private than Court. The Gentry Law Firm offers financing options to ensure that cost does not impede your legal representation.
What To Look For in a Divorce Lawyer
The Right Skill Set for The Most Favorable Outcome.
Whether you have one child or several, hiring an attorney to address child custody could impact your lives for years. Your attorney’s skill set matters because they play a crucial role in protecting your children from the harshest consequences of divorce, particularly if it is contentious.
Know Your Priorities.
Think about your goals and what you want the outcome of your child custody negotiations to bring. Are you a stay-at-home parent who needs spousal support to become self-sustaining? Does your spouse have a history of domestic violence?
Ensure that the lawyer you select understands your situation, concerns, and goals. You do not want to be in the position of switching attorneys or winding up in a less than ideal child custody arrangement.
The 5 Characteristics of an Effective Child Custody Lawyer
A cut-rate lawyer may be fine for a simple divorce without children or assets involved. But when there are kids in the middle of a breakup, you need to protect your parental rights. A child custody lawyer understands that keeping your kids safe and healthy is the most crucial issue for any parent.
How long has your lawyer practiced law, and what is their track record? A reputable law firm should list its professional associations and memberships on its website. Read the online reviews to better understand how opposing counsel, Judges, and former clients view the firm.
Your child custody lawyer should always tell you the truth, even if it is not what you want to hear. You deserve to have all the facts before making life-changing decisions for you and your children. Lawyers must adhere to strict guidelines set forth by the American Bar and other legal associations.
4. COMMUNICATION & COMPATIBILITY
Custody issues are deeply personal. You should feel comfortable talking about these matters with your attorney. You also want to ensure that your lawyer can answer your questions within a reasonable response time.
5. RELEVANT & LOCAL EXPERIENCE.
Lawyers with local experience in and around Metro Atlanta have invaluable insight about Judges’ rulings and more that works to your advantage. An attorney with local knowledge can save you time, money, and stress.