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Frequently Asked Questions in Atlanta, Georgia

Child Custody Modifications

Child custody and visitation issues are ever-changing. A child can reach the age of majority, a parent can move to another state or one of the parents can remarry which changes the dynamic of a custody and support agreement. These are some of the more frequently asked questions when it comes to modifying a child custody order.
This is not an exhaustive list of scenarios that can give rise to a change of custody, but, hopefully, it gives you an idea of legitimate and not so legitimate reasons to change custody and what courts are looking for if your motion is to be successful.

Q

What Do Courts Require For A Change Of Custody?

A

YES. We can not be clearer about this: The father’s name on the birth certificate does not grant you any legal standing or rights. Only the legal legitimation process can secure your legal rights to play a role in your child’s life.

Q

How Does The Court View The Other Parent If He Or  She Has A Drinking Or Substance Abuse Problem?

A

These are instances that usually warrant immediate removal from the other parent’s residence and care until the offending parent can get their drinking or drug use under control. This often involves, therapy, medication, or other treatment depending upon the other parent’s illness. This again assumes that this is provable. Courts do recognize that a child’s safety is the utmost priority and that a parent who cannot control their drinking or drug use cannot provide a safe environment or care for a minor child. If you suspect and can prove the other parent’s substance or alcohol abuse, file a motion right away and ask for sole custody with limited, perhaps supervised visitation rights. Courts do utilize devices, such as Sober Link, to ensure that a parent is not drinking or may require a parent to undergo random drug testing to ensure the child’s safety. If you are awarded custody in this situation and the other parent gets help getting sober or clean as they say, it is likely that the offending parent will be awarded visitation rights in the future. Court’s orders tend to range from provable sobriety, supervised visitation, reunification therapy, and supervised visitations.

Q

My Ex-spouse Has Remarried And Does Not Seem To  Have Much Interest In Our Child. Is This A Reason To Change Custody?

A

The introduction of a third party and, eventually, a new family into a child’s life can be problematic if not handled well. It is not unusual that the new spouse or partner wants to be the priority or does not want what they perceive as the competition of the child from a previous relationship. This is even more true if that new partnership or marriage results in another child or more children. If the child is not included in the “new family” the child can often feel confused, neglected, or even abused if such actions are in fact occurring in the household. If you feel that this is happening to your child, you need to talk openly with your child about their living circumstances and determine if a change of custody is necessary. If it is and your child is being rejected or otherwise neglected in the other parent’s new living circumstances, the chances of obtaining a custody modification go up.

Q

What Will Happen If One Of The Custodial Parents Is Mentally Ill?

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Mental illness is a sad and unfortunate part of many people’s lives. It can devastate families and have lasting negative effects on the children. If you have a spouse who is mentally ill, the court will take this into consideration for a custody modification. These are some of the factors that the court will consider when reviewing your request for a modification of support.

Q

If I Take A Job In Another City, Can I Bring My Child With Me?

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Yes, you can if (1) the other parent will agree in writing or (2) the court orders it. In this day and age, it happens often that people change jobs and move around the country. Courts take that into consideration. If you are considering a move to another city or state, it is important that you open a dialogue with the other custodial parent right away to see if you can work things out. Realistically, if one parent moves to another state that means that one of the parents is not going to see their child as often. Visitations will be limited to holidays and summers and the occasional long weekend. If you are considering a move such as this, be sure that you take all of these factors into consideration.
These are some of the factors that you should consider if and when you have to file a motion to modify custody on the basis of moving to another state (the so-called “move away” case). These factors will also be taken into consideration in any custody modification.

Q

Can I Modify Custody Because I Don’t Like My Ex’s  Parenting Style?

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A difference in parenting styles is usually not considered a reasonable legal basis for a change of custody. A difference in parenting styles is one of the main reasons for divorces and break-ups, and courts do not usually allow parents’ differences to carry over into the courtroom. That is not to say that if one parent is violent, abuses drugs or alcohol, or cannot otherwise care for the child that the court will not modify custody. However, just because parents disagree on how a child should be raised does not mean that a court will limit one parent’s custody and visitation rights. These are some examples of situations in which a court will probably not change custody.

Q

Can I Ask For More Custody Time So That I Do Not  Have To Pay As Much Child Support?

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This is one of the worst reasons to ask for a custody modification, and courts usually see right through it. If they do, it will not go well for you. The usual attitude of the court is that, if you want to spend more time with your child, great; but it had better not be to just get out of paying child support. Courts want to see a genuine interest by the requesting parent to see their children, care for them, and to be a part of their lives. You are going to have to prove that if you want a modification of custody. If you simply say that you just do not want to pay as much child support or make any such comments to the other parent, and it is proven, you will likely lose your motion. On the other hand, if you have given the situation due consideration and want to be a more active part of your child’s life, that is a reasonable basis for a modification of custody request even with a reduction in child support.