In a custody dispute, Georgia courts aim to do what is in the best interests of the child—a standard for which there is no common definition. Instead, the court considers many factors to determine who should be granted custody , including emotional ties, ability of a parent to provide, and a child’s special needs. For this reason, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that may lead to a loss in your custody battle.
Words and Actions Matter to Georgia Courts
In some divorces, parents are able to agree on where their child should live, how the child’s medical expenses will be paid, who will make major decisions for the child, and how the child’s education will be funded. However, when parents can’t agree, the court steps in. Then, each parent attempts to show that he/she can best meet the child’s needs. To avoid losing custody, avoid these critical mistakes:
- Engaging in drug or alcohol use. Even if it’s in moderation, consuming alcohol around your children or posting photos to social media sites that show you’ve been drinking may severely hurt your case. Especially if you abuse prescription or illegal substances, you may be deemed unfit for custody.
- Appearing unstable. Every conversation you have and every post you make to social media will be under scrutiny in a child custody case. If you rant to friends or coworkers in person or online, those emotional, angry conversations may make you seem erratic and unpredictable.
- Criticizing your ex. Courts find it important that both parents are amiable with each other and create a positive, affectionate environment for the child. Therefore, speaking poorly of your ex to friends, family, coworkers, and around your children is a mistake.
- Moving in with your new significant other. Courts want to protect a child’s perceptions of her parents’ relationship. Although you and your ex may have moved on, the courts desire that the child still sees the relationship as safe and loving. Moving in with a new partner complicates this.
- Distancing yourself from your child. Although Georgia law eliminates gender bias from the custody equation, only 18.3 percent of custodial parents were fathers, according to the 2011 U.S. Census. It happens that some parents get wrapped up in the legal complexities and neglect their parenting duties, making it appear that they are not a primary or natural caregiver. Remember: your child is the most important concern in a custody case.
Don’t Ignore the Advice of Your Attorney
Another mistake a parent can make is not listening to attorney advice. If you’re going through a custody battle, your lawyer is a valuable source of knowledge and can help you through the process. The legal team at Duffy & Feemster is available to work with you on your case. To speak with a representative today, start a live online chat on our website.