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Can fathers win sole custody of their children in Georgia?

As a father going through a divorce, it's natural for you to have more questions than answers. Can a father win sole custody of his children? What does sole custody mean versus joint legal custody? What can I do to prepare for my custody hearing?

Take a breath and try to relax. These are the basics of what you need to know to keep your children.

Is sole custody an option for fathers?

Absolutely. In the state of Georgia there is no preference to whether the mother or father becomes the sole custodian of their children after a divorce. But what does sole custody mean, and how does it compare to other forms of child custody?

There are two forms of custody you may have over your child - physical and legal. Physical custody determines where your child lives, and legal custody determines who has decision-making power over the child.

Courts decide these two forms of custody separately, and whether a parent will have sole or joint custody. This is an important distinction to know because people often associate "sole custody" exclusively with physical custody. For example, you may have joint physical custody and sole legal custody, meaning your child will live with both you and your ex, but you will have exclusive decision-making power over them.

These are only the basic forms of custody. State laws can be very intricate, and you will always want an experienced family attorney on your side before you set foot in a courtroom.

How fathers can help their cases

While your lawyer will advise you on how to approach your first custody hearing, these are a few actions that won't hurt your chances of winning custody of your child:

  • Stay off of social media - Divorce is a difficult time, but try not to let your emotions get the better of you. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; they're all being used as evidence in divorce cases. The last thing you want is a printout of a vitriolic Facebook status about your ex coming across the judge's desk when your children may be on the line.
  • Craft a parenting plan with your ex - It may be difficult, but creating a comprehensive schedule together is an important step that could go a long way in a custody hearing. Make sure to schedule who your child will be with each day of the year, holiday travel plans, transportation and pick-up and drop-off points.
  • Undergo a home custody evaluation- You have the option of having a court-appointed mental health expert come to your house to evaluate you and your living situation. This will no doubt be stressful, but could make all the difference if you expect your ex to call you or your home into question.
  • Engage with your children - There has never been a more important time to foster a relationship with your child. Build your bond by spend time talking and playing with your child. Be present for school conferences, afterschool activities, and other important events, and keep documents and receipts to show your involvement. The child's preference of which parent to live with often hold a lot of weight with judges.

Through it all, remember that fathers have more rights than you may think in Georgia. The court has no inherent preference in the level of custody a parent may receive based on whether they are the mother or father. You can give yourself a head start on keeping your children by staying educated and seeking the aid of an experienced family attorney.

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Hecht Family Law
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Alpharetta, GA 30004

Phone: 678-926-9234
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