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What you should know before your Georgia child custody hearing

If you are looking to gain or modify child custody in Georgia through a child custody hearing, familiarizing yourself with the process beforehand often proves beneficial. In addition to giving you an idea of what to expect, which can help calm any nerves you may have, understanding the child custody hearing process could improve your chances of making the right preparations.

If you are a noncustodial parent looking to gain custody, or partial custody, of your child through a custody change you must first file a petition in the county where your child's other parent lives. You may be able to then pursue sole or joint custody, depending on your circumstances.

What to expect at the hearing

At the hearing itself, you can expect the judge to consider a broad set of circumstances before issuing any decisions regarding custody or visitation. Ultimately, a judge makes his or her determinations about custody after considering the best interests of your child, and after listening to arguments from both sides and developing a better understanding of the child's needs and wants.

Keep in mind that children who are over the age of 14 typically get a significant say in which parent to live with. Also, children this age can request a custody change, if desired. As a note, there are limits on how often a child of this age can request a change.

Grandparent rights in Georgia

If you are a Georgia grandparent looking to gain custody of your grandchild, you may be able to do so, depending on circumstances. However, when possible, the courts typically prefer to give natural parents first rights over grandparents when at least one natural parent wants custody over the child, provided that parent is fit to provide care. Courts may be more likely to award grandparents custody in instances where, for example, both natural parents are habitual substance abusers, or where one parent is dead and the other, a substance abuser or imprisoned.

Every child custody case is different, but at the end of the day, your child's well-being is what matters most. The child custody hearing process could help you and your former partner get to an arrangement that best fits your family's unique needs.

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