My Cousin Danny
MODIFICATION OF CUSTODY
If your current custodial arrangement is no longer working, let My Cousin Danny show the Court how it is in the best interests of your minor child to modify that agreement.
Once an award of custody has been made, to change the arrangement, the Court must determine whether there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child since the last custody award. See Vishup v. Vishup 291 Ga. 103, 105 (2012). If so, the trial Court then determines whether the child’s best interest will be served by a change in custody. Todd v Casciano, 256 Ga. App. 631 (2002).
It is common for custody to need to be modified. Whether the initial custody determination was Court Ordered or agreed to by the Parties things change that cause former arraignments to be not practical or no longer in the child’s best interest. New Jobs, moving long distance, a Parties’ remarriage, health problems, substance abuse issues or the child’s own wishes may be a basis for modifying custody in DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties; as well as other Counties in the State of Georgia.
Absent an agreement by the Parties a Court will need to determine if there has been a material change in circumstance AND if that change has affected the welfare of the child. To do so A Court will frequently Order a Guardian ad Litem to be assigned to the case.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)
Unfortunately, Judges have hundreds of cases to manage and cannot spend the necessary time to investigate each one themselves individually. When a Judge is presented with two dramatically different version of events regarding what is happening in each parent’s life, within each parent’s home, and what is in the best interest for the child or children’s future, the Judge or the Parties will seek the aid of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to conduct an investigation.
The GAL is a court-appointed attorney for the children in a divorce or a custody action. A GAL may be requested by either party, both parties jointly, or appointed by the Court. While the Parties must pay for a GAL in Superior Court, GALs in Juvenile Courts are appointed without charge. After the GAL conducts an investigation the GAL will make recommendations to the Court about custody and parenting time. While a Judge is not bound by a GAL’s opinions, they are often times given great weight by the Judge as the GAL is the eyes and ears of the Court. It is critical that you are represented by an attorney such as My Cousin Danny to make sure the GAL selected is well matched to your case. Unfortunately, not all GALs are not created equal, and an attorney lacking experience working with a range of GALs in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and or Cobb County will be unfamiliar with a particular Guardian’s track record or qualifications. The wrong GAL in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, or Cobb Counties can jeopardize your chance of winning your case. Don’t set yourself up for failure, call My Cousin Danny today.
AFFIDAVIT OF ELECTION
Can my child choose to live with me? Maybe.
O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3 (5) provides that in all custody cases in which the child has reached the age of 14 years, the child shall have the right to select the parent with whom he or she desires to live. The child’s selection for purposes of custody shall be presumptive unless the parent so selected is determined not to be in the best interests of the child. The parental selection by a child who has reached the age of 14 may, in and of itself, constitute a material change of condition or circumstance in any action seeking a modification or change in the custody of that child; provided, however, that such selection may only be made once within a period of two years from the date of the previous selection and the best interests of the child standard shall apply.
O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3 (6) states, in all custody cases in which the child has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years, the judge shall consider the desires and educational needs of the child in determining which parent shall have custody. The judge shall have complete discretion in making this determination, and the child’s desires shall not be controlling. The judge shall further have broad discretion as to how the child’s desires are to be considered, including through the report of a guardian ad litem. The best interests of the child standard shall be controlling. The parental selection of a child who has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years shall not, in and of itself, constitute a material change of condition or circumstance in any action seeking a modification or change in the custody of that child. The judge may issue an order granting temporary custody to the selected parent for a trial period not to exceed six months regarding the custody of a child who has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years where the judge hearing the case determines such a temporary order is appropriate.
Let My Cousin Danny assist you and your child in drafting and executing an Affidavit of Election that will be acceptable and convincing to the Court so that you will have physical custody of your child.
Common Legal Questions
How do I file for divorce?
A divorce is initiated by filing a Domestic Relations Case Initiation Form, Summons, and Petition for Divorce with the Court Clerk of the relevant County of the Parties; and paying a filing fee. Once a divorce is properly filed the Respondent (person not initiating the divorce) must be served with process.
How long before I get my license back?
It depends on your past driving history, your age, the class of driver’s license you have and the current charges against you. As an example, for drivers over 21 years old a second, non-drug-related DUI conviction within five years of the prior conviction will result in DDS will suspending your license for three years. Call to discuss the specifics of your case.
What Can i drive with a DUI?
Once again, it depends. If your DUI conviction was drug-related (the influence of drugs alone, or alcohol and drugs combined) you face different rules regarding license suspension. For a second DUI-Drug conviction in five years, DDS will issue a yearlong “hard suspension” of your license, meaning that you won’t be allowed to drive for 12 months, period. But if you enter an alternative sentencing program like a DUI or Drug Court, you might be eligible for limited permit.
Can I get 50/50 Custody?
In Georgia child custody has two components: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right and ability to talk to your child’s doctor, teachers and such. Think of it as the ability to have a say in their life. Physical custody is the person who the child primarily lives with. Most divorcing parents will have joint legal custody (50/50 custody) of any minor children born of the marriage, while designating one parent as the physical custodian of the child or children. However, it is possible to have 50/50 joint legal and physical custody.
How much does a divorce cost?
There is no magic answer to that question. Other than everybody paying the same filing fee to initiate a divorce each divorce contains different issues, different disputes and different personalities. The Parties to the divorce have the biggest influence on the final cost of the divorce. Litigants who are fighting over silverware and toiletries out of spite for each other are likely to spend a larger amount that people who have resolved most of their issues. High value divorces with stocks, multiple parcels of real property, business or large pre-marital assets will also cost more than divorces with less assets. Lawyers sell their time. A divorce that takes more hours is going to cost more than a divorce that takes less hours. Let’s talk about your divorce so you will have an idea of the total cost.
Can i leave the state with my kids?
A well drafted parenting plan will cover contingencies and events you might not have though of. Interstate, intrastate and international travel are all issues that should be considered before signing any agreement. Depending on the facts of your case out of state travel with your children should be permissible with reasonable notice to the child’s other parent. What is reasonable notice? Call me, and lets talk.
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