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Answering Your Family Law Questions

In Carrollton, Georgia, and the surrounding areas, you can turn to Duke & Heath, Attorneys at Law, for clear answers to your legal questions. You can also meet with one of our lawyers in a free consultation. Simply call 678-390-5577 or send us an email.

As the father, is there any chance I can get custody of my children?

There is not a presumption in favor of the father or the mother when determining who gets custody of the children. Which parent retains primary physical custody of the children is determined by what is in the best interest of the children.

What determines the “best interest of the children”?

The factors that determine what is in the best interest of the children include:

  • “The love, affection, bonding and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child
  • The love, affection, bonding and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and step siblings and the residence of such other children
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection and guidance, and to continue the education and rearing of the child
  • Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent
  • The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors
  • The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social and extracurricular activities
  • Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child
  • The home, school, community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child
  • Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities
  • The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child
  • Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent
  • Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent” (Ga. Code Ann. § 19-9-3.)

What age does a child get to choose which parent he or she wants to live with?

When a child reaches the age of 14, there is a rebuttable presumption that the child can choose which parent she/he wants to live with. However, the court must still find that it is in the best interest of that child to live with the parent the child chooses. So if you do not feel that the other parent is the best choice, get an attorney who will present the facts to the judge and explain why you are the best choice.

If I am not happy with the decision the judge made, what can I do?

All nonfrivolous appeals in domestic cases, such as divorce, custody, child support and adoption are heard by the Georgia Supreme Court or the Georgia Court of Appeals.

I do not make as much money as my spouse and cannot afford an attorney. What can I do to get adequate representation?

When one spouse makes substantially more money than the other spouse, typically the higher earning spouse must pay the attorney’s fees of the lower earning spouse.

My spouse wants alimony but she cheated on me. Is she entitled to alimony?

If a spouse commits adultery and the adultery is the cause of the separation, the adulterous spouse is not entitled to alimony unless the other spouse forgives the adulterous spouse and the parties have intercourse.

My ex-wife says I can pay her less child support than is in the court order. Is it OK for me to pay her less money than the court ordered?

You and your ex-spouse cannot modify your child support obligation without getting a court order. Even if your spouse agrees to allow you to pay less child support, you could end up in jeopardy of owing thousands of dollars.

I lost my job and cannot afford to pay the same amount of child support I was paying when I had my job. What can I do to get my child support reduced?

If you lose your job, without fault of your own, you may be eligible for a modification of your child support. The Georgia Child Support Guidelines are based on each parent’s income. And if one parent is not working, the court generally imputes the nonworking parent’s income at minimum wage.