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In this video, Lawrenceville Divorce Attorney David Ward answers, Child Custody Disputes in Georgia.


Child custody disputes can be highly subjective as the court tries to determine what is in best interests of the child. To secure your rights as a parent and ensure the parenting plan and custody order is in your child’s best interests, you will have to present a solid case with convincing evidence.

At The Ward Law Firm’s philosophy for cases like this is simple: children are not bargaining chips in a divorce. They deserve better than to be treated as pawns. We will use every legal means at our disposal to help you protect them.

There are two forms of child custody in Georgia:

Legal: The rights of a parent to make decisions for the child, such religious or spiritual development, healthcare choices, and education.
Physical: Where and when the child is with each parent and with which parent the child will primarily reside.

Custody can be either sole or joint. Sole custody awards the rights mentioned above to just one parent (though the noncustodial parent may still have visitation rights), while joint custody grants those rights to both parents.

The court prefers to award joint custody, though there are circumstances when one parent is unfit to handle either legal or physical custody responsibilities. For example, the court may consider a parent unfit if he or she has a history of alcohol or drug use.

Parents may attempt to work out a parenting plan that works for the family, which the judge must approve. But if they cannot agree, then the court may have to make the decisions for the parents.

Children ages 14 or older can request the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. But it can override that decision if it determines that request is not in the child's best interests. The court may consider the wishes of children under 14 but will make its own ruling based on the child’s best interests.

Georgia also recognizes grandparents’ rights to visitation. Grandparents may join an existing visitation case or may file their own if none exists.

Custody modification is possible; however, it is usually only modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances affecting the child. Custody can only be modified by court order.

Matters relating to child custody—creating a parenting plan and determining custody, modifying a parenting plan, requesting a relocation—can be very complex. You must follow the legal procedure under Georgia law and present a solid case that demonstrates what is in the child’s best interests.

If you have questions ...

Whether your divorce involves asset and debt division, financial support, or child custody, the mental and emotional toll can be overwhelming. Having a complete and honest assessment of what to expect throughout the divorce process substantially reduces the doubt and uncertainty that many people experience. Gwinnett County divorce attorney David Ward has the experience to know that even the most complex issues have solutions, and he fights to ensure that your best interests remain the focus.

It is vital to pursue legal matters carefully and consciously with an experienced family lawyer like David Ward who will guide and keep you informed as your case progresses. Unlike most divorce lawyers in Gwinnett County, David Ward has a strong background in finance and accounting. He uses his deep understanding of finances to tackle complex situations regarding property and asset division.

We know that there are few situations in life that are more difficult than divorce. The decisions you make early on in your case may affect you and your children’s lives well into the future. We understand the difficulties you are now facing and we want you to know that we are here to help. In fact, our Lawrenceville law firm has been helping folks just like you work through their divorces and family law issues for over a decade. Contact a divorce attorney Lawrenceville or a Gwinnett County family law attorney today at 770-383-1973 to schedule your REAL Case Analysis.

NOTICE: You are not a client of this law firm and we do not represent you unless you have a signed attorney/client agreement with this law firm. No duties or privileged relationships are intended to be created by this communication where they do not otherwise exist.

The Ward Law Firm
3235 Satellite Boulevard
Building 400; Suite 300
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30096