Following a divorce, one of the top questions parents have for divorce lawyers is, “Can the custody of my child be changed?” The quick answer is- Yes. But there are facts to keep in mind as you go through the process to ensure your custody is where it should be.
Child custody tends to be the issue that creates the most conflict between parents going through a divorce. Not surprisingly, it does not become any less contested when raised in a modification proceeding. Therefore, it is important to understand the issues surrounding child custody and how the law can affect your child when you are making preparations following a divorce. Here are some facts to consider about legal custody of your child:
- Joint legal custody is when both parents have certain legal rights related to the minor child. These rights and responsibilities include: education, health care, extracurricular activities and religious upbringing.
- Typically, only one parent will have the final decision-making authority for the child.
- Physical custody dictates with which parent the child lives.
- The court designates one parent as the primary physical custodian, while the other is the noncustodial parent.
- A noncustodial parent will typically have regular, scheduled overnight visitation with the child.
- Visitation schedules for noncustodial parents vary depending on the needs of the child and the desires of the parents.
Change in Child Custody after a Divorce
In addition to understanding the basics of child custody, you should know what to expect before hiring an attorney. Both child custody and child support can be modified after divorce if there is a change in circumstances. Although each case presents different facts and challenges, for custody to be modified the court must be convinced that it is in the child’s best interest.
Other facts impacting custody following a divorce include:
- a parent who is abusing drugs or alcohol
- a parent who has mental health issues
- a child not doing well at school or home
- a problem in the home environment
- a parent wishes to move the child out of the state
- a child desires to live with the noncustodial parent
If you believe a change in custody is in your child’s best interest after your divorce, you will want to have a family law attorney on your side to guide you through the process. When necessary, a family law attorney can bring in professionals, such as a child psychologist or a Guardian ad Litem to support your claim. These are matters you do not want to go through on your own without the right family law attorney and support. Our family law attorneys in our Alpharetta law office can help you with any questions you may have.
Call (770) 475-2521 or click to schedule a time to meet with a family law attorney with your questions.