Do you want to potentially lose custody of your child?
Or do you want to get as much custody of your child as possible?
Hiring the right child custody lawyer in Georgia can mean the difference between:
- Not having any say in where they go to school and deciding where they go.
- Being helpless in a medical emergency and being able to get them the help they need.
- Seeing them every other weekend or seeing them all throughout the week.
Hiring the best child custody lawyers in Georgia means you get the time with your kids that you deserve.
And that your child deserves.
It also means that you get to make decisions on what’s best for them so they can live their happiest life.
Here’s what we are covering about hiring an attorney for child custody.
- Hiring the Best Child Custody Lawyer In Georgia
- Navigating Divorce With Child Custody
- The Cost of Child Custody Lawyers
- Getting A Child Custody Lawyer Free Consultation
- Child Custody Lawyer for Fathers
- Child Custody Lawyers For Single Mothers
- When to Hire Lawyers for Custody Battles
- Finding A Family Law Attorney Child Custody Near Me
Hiring the Best Child Custody Lawyer In Georgia
When you are filing for divorce with children in Georgia, it can get messy fast.
Hiring the right lawyer for child custody is going to save you time, money, and heartache.
We’re talking about the heartache of potentially losing custody.
If parents can agree on a fair parenting plan for an uncontested divorce in Georgia, then things are good.
You won’t need to hire a top-notch lawyer who knows the ins and outs of family law for child custody.
This can save you thousands as the cost per hour for the best child custody lawyers in Georgia is a little pricier.
Let’s talk about the types of child custody in Georgia to know what we’re up against.
Types of Child Custody in Georgia
Georgia only recognizes two types of child custody.
They are physical child custody and legal child custody.
Physical Child Custody in Georgia
A parent with full child custody in Georgia means that the child lives with them full time.
But that’s not always in the best interest of the child.
The judges like to see the kids spend roughly equal time with both parents.
For this reason, judges usually grant joint custody.
Joint custody means that the child splits time living with both parents.
Legal Child Custody in Georgia
Parents with full legal child custody in Georgia get to make all major decisions for the child.
Some of the major decisions based around legal custody include:
Georgia’s child custody laws favor what’s in the best interest of the child.
For legal custody, they believe that both parents should be making major decisions.
Sometimes parents with joint custody cannot come to an agreement on major decisions.
The family courts will appoint one parent the primary custody parent.
This parent has the final say when the parents can’t agree.
The parent who spends more time with the child usually is the custodial parent.
Let’s talk more about what Georgia’s child custody laws mean by the best interest of the child in Georgia.
Best Interest of the Child
Georgia’s child custody laws instruct the judge on how to make custody decisions. They must make child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. The judge has to take into account each parent’s:
- home environment
- ability to take care of and nurture the child
- mental and physical health
- emotional ties with the child
- ability to provide welfare (food, shelter, and clothing)
- familiarity with the child’s health, educational, and social needs
- involvement in the child’s schooling
- involvement in the child’s extracurricular activities
- willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent
- history of substance abuse
- history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect of the child
- criminal histories
Navigating Divorce With Child Custody
When you’re facing a divorce with child custody, there are 5 thing you need to consider to prepare.
- Types of child custody arrangements
- Reaching a custody agreement
- Child support obligations
- Personal and emotional considerations
- Hiring the right divorce attorney
In Divorce Who Gets Child Custody
For child custody in Georgia, there are only two types of child custody.
- Physical Child Custody
- Legal Child Custody
In general, the judge will appoint joint custody.
They do this because they feel that it is in the child’s best interests to spend equal time with both parents.
They also believe that both parents have made major decisions for the child together up until this point.
Their goal is to allow both parents to continue working together in the child’s life.
But sometimes it’s not in the child’s best interest for the parents to have joint custody.
Physical Child Custody
Physical child custody refers to where the child lives.
It also refers to which parent cares for the child on a daily basis.
For joint physical child custody, the parents share roughly equal parenting time.
Legal Child Custody
Legal child custody refers to the parent’s right to make major decisions for the child. These decisions are:
Joint Child Custody
Joint physical custody and joint legal custody are the most common outcome.
The circumstances have to be extreme for the courts to award one parent sole custody of the child.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody means that the child lives with both parents.
While it may not mean 50/50, the courts will make the joint physical custody roughly equal.
This usually comes in the form of a 4/3 split.
This means that the child will stay with one parent 4 nights and with the other parent for 3 nights.
The most common joint physical custody is:
- Monday – Thursday (Parent #1)
- Friday – Sunday (Parent #2)
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody means that the parents will both make major decisions together.
Sometimes the judge can tell that the parents will have disagreements.
In this case, the judge will allow the custodial parent to have the final say when there is a disagreement.
A custodial parent is a parent who the child primarily lives with.
In the joint physical custody agreement above, Parent #1 is the custodial parent.
Hiring A Divorce and Child Support Lawyer
For a contested divorce with children, you’ll want to hire a divorce and child support lawyer.
It’s important to know what the majority of the experience your lawyer has when you have a divorce.
(And how knowledgeable about custody and child support laws in Georgia.)
Some only do uncontested divorces in Georgia where the parents agree on everything.
Some don’t do ANY divorces with child custody.
(They understand divorce laws in Georgia, but not so much the custody laws.)
You want to make sure that the family lawyers you hire are skilled at child custody divorces.
The best child custody lawyers frequently handle divorce cases with child custody battles.
This way, you have the best chances of not losing custody of your child.
Hiring a Custody and Child Support Lawyer
Sometimes people fight for child custody when they are not going through a divorce.
A good custody and child support lawyer is going to be an attorney who deals with a lot of divorces.
This is because child custody and divorces normally go hand in hand.
But you need to understand how NOT being married affects your child custody.
And more importantly, your attorney should understand the family law for child custody for unmarried couples.
Child custody attorneys will have to prove that the father is the biological father of the child.
This is because of how the child custody laws in Georgia treat fathers.
- For married couples, the husband is automatically assumed to the father of the child.
- For unmarried couples, the father has to prove that he is the father.
A family child custody lawyer will know how to build a case that complies with Georgia’s child custody laws.
In Georgia, paternity does not give the father visitation or custody rights.
Meaning that being the dad doesn’t automatically allow you to have custody.
The first thing that you have to do is prove that you are the father of the child with a paternity test.
Once you have proven paternity, you aren’t in the clear.
And if you want to prove paternity, make sure you having custody is in the best interest of the child.
When you prove paternity, you automatically have to pay child support.
But you may not get child custody.
You would prove you are the father just to pay child support and not have any custody rights.
To get child custody, you have to file for Legitimation.
Only the biological father can file for legitimation.
In Georgia, legitimation must be filed in the county the mother lives in and include claims for:
- Child Custody in Georgia
- Parenting Time
- Visitation Rights
When you file for legitimation, the mother has an opportunity to dispute it.
She can claim, but has to prove, that you are not the father or that you have lost the opportunity to develop a relationship with the child.
Ultimately, it’s up to the courts to decide if these allegations are true.
If they believe it is in the best interest of the child, they will issue an order declaring the father/child relationship legitimate.
Meaning that you have rights to child custody.
It’s important that you hire an experienced lawyer for child custody.
This way, you have the best chances of proving you are the father, legitimizing it, and getting custody of your child.
The Cost of Child Custody Lawyers
A large chunk of the costs for child custody battles comes from child custody attorney fees.
The cost of divorce in Georgia is significantly increased when fighting for custody.
But let’s say you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce and custody.
If that’s the case, the cost of uncontested divorce in Georgia is relatively cheap.
But there are other things that add to the cost of child custody.
Type of Child Custody Dispute
The main difference in child custody costs is if you have a contested or uncontested case.
Contested child custody cases are going to be much more expensive than uncontested.
Child custody is usually what makes contested divorces in Georgia so expensive.
An uncontested child custody case is where you and your ex agree on how to split custody.
But one parent may be determined to have sole custody (or another unfair outcome).
If they won’t budge on this, you’re going to have to fork out some money for a custody battle.
Your custody battle will result in:
- gathering evidence
- filing motions
- court appearances
- hiring child psychologists
Specialists or Expert Witnesses
Some child custody cases need child psychologists or witnesses.
Even if the dispute is amicable, the judge may still ask that the parents go through a child custody evaluation.
Child custody evaluations check you, your child, and the other parent.
After the evaluation, the psychologist will make a recommendation to the court about child custody.
These recommendations are based on making sure the needs of the children get met.
Child Custody Lawyer Fees
Child custody lawyer fees range anywhere from $85 to $400.
Child custody lawyers in Atlanta and other larger cities will charge $275-$350.
How much a lawyer for child custody costs depends on:
- their level of experience
- the reputation that they have built
- their track record in winning child custody battles
How to Pay for Child Custody Lawyer Cost?
Attorneys for child custody charge clients in one of two ways:
- Retainer Fees
- Flat Fees
Retainer Fee for Child Custody Lawyer Georgia
Retainer fees for custody attorneys is very common.
Child custody lawyer retainer fees benefit the lawyer and the client.
The client won’t owe ALL the money upfront like they would in a flat fee scenario.
So, if the child custody case is going to cost $15,000, they won’t make you pay it all upfront.
Most likely, they will allow you to pay 50% of the $15,000 ($7,500) upfront.
Family lawyers cannot spend your retainer money until they have worked the hours.
Once they have worked on your case, then they can pull money from your retainer.
They simply place your money into a special bank account and will bill it each week as they make progress on your case.
Once they have charged your retainer fee the $7,500 (in this example), they will make you pay the remaining $7,500 as another retainer fee.
If the custody attorney ends up completing your case with any money left, you can get a refund.
Flat Fee for Child Custody Attorneys in Georgia
If the child custody case is simple and straight forward, you’ll be able to hire a child custody lawyer cheap.
Flat fees range from $3,000 to $20,000.
The cost variations depend on how complex the child custody case is.
But if you go the flat fee route, the child custody lawyer gets to keep any extra money left over.
This is why it benefits clients to go the retainer fee route.
Finding Cheap Child Custody Lawyers
Note that the flat fee may SEEM like the best way to hire a cheap attorney for child custody.
But if your case ends up being more complex then they will charge you more down the road.
For example, let’s say that they charge $300 per hour and the flat fee was $9,000.
That means that you are buying 30 hours of services from the child custody lawyer.
If they end up working 30 hours on your case, but the battle isn’t over, they will charge you more to continue.
You could have a child custody attorney give you a low ball flat fee to hook you, but upcharge you later.
Your best route to hire a child custody lawyer cheap is to find an all-inclusive price.
The price will be more of a sticker shock up front, trust me.
But working with the best child custody lawyers means you’re working with honest and transparent ones.
This means that they are willing to give you an itemized list of costs you will incur.
This list should also have estimations for how long it should take them to perform the work.
If they can’t provide you with this, then they may not understand the costs of a child custody case.
This also mitigates any risks that you will be severely up charged later on.
Who Pays Attorney Fees In Child Custody Cases?
Usually, each parent in a child custody case is responsible for paying their attorney fees.
A judge might make an exception if one parent makes substantially more money than the other, or if one party cannot afford legal representation.
How much does a child custody trial cost?
The cost of a child custody trial can range anywhere from $3,000 to $40,000+.
The huge range is due to the many factors that go into your overall court case and requirements for custody.
It’s also dependent on whether you have an uncontested case or contested.
Contested child custody cases will be much more expensive than uncontested ones.
What is the retainer fee for child custody lawyers?
A typical child custody lawyer cost can range from $3,000 to $20,000.
Some child custody lawyers fees are charged on a retainer basis.
A retainer is a fee paid in advance to the lawyer for handling your case.
The lawyer draws from this retainer to pay his or her expenses as the case proceeds.
Neither one is more advantageous financially over the other.
Getting A Child Custody Lawyer Free Consultation
Setting up a child custody lawyer free consultation is the first step to your custody case.
But it’s also important to note that not all lawyers give free consultations.
When you reach out to a child custody lawyer in Georgia, ask them if they provide free consultations.
If they say “No,” then shy away from them.
You are about to fight for custody of your child.
You want to make sure that the family child custody lawyer you’re hiring is the right fit.
The free consultation with a child custody lawyer is your chance to make sure that they are.
When you are in your consultation:
- Discuss Costs
- Discuss Your Concerns
- Discuss Their Style
Discussing Child Custody Lawyer Costs
For the cost of your child custody case, ask them for an estimation.
But remember that they may not know (and that’s okay).
Even if they don’t know, ask them for:
- the fees you will have to pay for filing papers
- the fees for showing up in court
- the fees for mediation
- the lawyer fees they charge
They should be willing to print this information out for you so that it’s easy for you to digest.
If they get aggravated that you’re requesting this, this might be a red flag.
Your child custody lawyer should be providing you with transparency and information.
You’re paying them thousands of dollars. It’s the least they can do.
The lawyer fees that you get charged may vary.
Meaning, you may have legal assistant fees and attorney fees.
Established attorneys will have assistants work on your case as much as possible.
This frees the lawyers up to do $300 per hour tasks for you.
Tasks like negotiations and contract review.
You don’t want your child custody lawyer charging you $300 per hour for:
- answering emails
- filing paperwork
- filling out forms
- plugging numbers into the Georgia child support calculator
Discussing Your Concerns
During the free consultation, your attorney should give you time to voice concerns.
Child custody battles are a big deal and you will have concerns and questions.
If your child custody lawyer brushes off your questions, this could be another red flag.
Their experience may tell them that you shouldn’t get concerned.
But they should take the time to explain to you why you don’t need to worry.
If they don’t, it’s a potential red flag.
You want a child custody attorney that’s on your side and empathetic, not one who dismisses you.
Discuss Their Style
What in tarnation does that even mean?
You want to know how aggressively they will fight your child custody battle.
While a super aggressive attorney SEEMS great, it’s not.
But let me explain.
The child custody laws in Georgia are such that they want the outcome to be fair.
When the judge is fighting to do what’s in the best interest of the child, they are fighting to be fair.
They don’t want one parent to undeservingly lose or gain custody.
If your attorney for child custody relentlessly negotiates and fights, it won’t end well.
The judge will get tired of fighting with your attorney.
Judges like ‘easy to work with’ attorneys who create solutions, not problems.
This means the judge is going to ‘lean’ in favor of the other parent.
This also is going to cost you THOUSANDS more in child custody lawyer fees.
If the custody lawyer can drag out the custody battle for months, they can charge the clients more money.
The best child custody lawyers are able to work WITH other attorneys to come up with a solution.
If you have a custody lawyer who has relationships with other firms, they can help talk sense into your ex.
This can make things go smoother, cheaper, and faster.
Better yet, you get the best outcome for the children.
What does a child custody lawyer do?
When parents cannot agree on custody of their child, the matter is settled in family court.
Parents will need to hire a child custody lawyer in Georgia to represent them.
Child custody attorneys will help the parent:
- navigate the court appearances
- file all of the paperwork
- prove their custody is in the child’s best interests
Child Custody Lawyer for Fathers
For child custody in Georgia, the courts are as likely to favor the father as they are the mother.
Meaning, the courts don’t automatically give mothers child custody.
Georgia’s child custody laws view major issues as gender-neutral.
These issues include:
Instead of focusing on gender, they focus on things like:
- Which parent gets the child ready for school?
- Which parent takes care of the child when he or she is sick?
- Which parent takes the child to parent-teacher conferences and doctor’s appointments?
- Which parent helps the child with his or her homework?
How to Win Child Custody For Fathers
In Georgia, winning child custody is not as hard for fathers as other states.
But if you want to improve your chances, here are some ways on how to win child custody for fathers:
- Pay your child support payments, on time, no matter what.
- Build a strong relationship with your child and be involved in their lives.
- Attend important extracurricular events for your child.
- Create an adequate space for your child in your home.
- Prepare to answer questions about living accommodations, the child’s education, and your financial preparedness.
- Be respectful to the child’s other parent and work with them.
When you are involved in your child’s life, you have a better chance of getting child custody as a father.
This doesn’t mean just ‘check the box’ of showing up.
It means that you are involved and are actively trying to be a good parent.
Child Custody Father’s Rights
For child custody, father’s rights are different for married and unmarried couples.
Father’s Custody Rights if Unmarried
Custody rights for a father refer to the biological father’s ability to get legal and physical custody.
There are no automatic fathers’ rights in Georgia if you and the other parent are not married.
This is true even if you live with the mother or have been in a committed relationship for several years.
When children are born outside of a marriage, the mother is the only person who has legal or physical custody.
If you want child custody as a father, there are some steps you have to take.
You will have to:
- Prove you are the biological father.
- File for legitimization.
The courts like to grant custody to both of the biological parents.
Child custody laws in Georgia are such that they believe this is in the best interest of the child.
But the judge must still determine if giving the father child custody is in the best interest of the child.
They will dig deeper into things like:
- your history with the child
- your financial status
- your physical ability to care for the child
- your mental and emotional state
- any criminal history of violence
Father’s Custody Rights if Married
When you are married, the husband is assumed to be the biological father.
This is the case even if the wife is pregnant by another man.
In this case, the father will not have to prove paternity.
Who has legal custody of a child when the parents are not married?
When a child is born to unmarried parents in Georgia, the law declares the mother to have sole custody.
Once the father establishes a legal relationship with the child, he is allowed custody or visitation rights.
Things get really messy when the parents are getting a divorce while pregnant and they want to fight for custody.
Can a mother keep a child from their father?
For children born outside of marriage, the mother is automatically granted sole custodianship.
The father has no legal right to see their child without a court order.
Until the father proves paternity and legitimizes the relationship, the mother can keep a child from the father.
Child Custody Lawyers For Single Mothers
Single mothers automatically get full legal and physical custody of the children.
Let’s assume that the mother was single (not married) at the time of the child’s birth.
Or that they have gone through legal separation in Georgia.
In this case, they will be the custodial parent and granted all legal rights.
The mother will only have to give up sole custody if the father wants child custody.
For fathers to get child custody, though, he has to prove paternity and legitimize himself.
If the father is not on the birth certificate, then he will have to have a DNA test done to prove paternity.
After he has proven paternity, he will have to file for legitimation.
The courts will make the decision for child custody based on what’s in the best interests of the child.
If the mother is unfit or the father is unfit, then custody will get determined based on that.
Sometimes the mother believes that the father is unfit to be around the child.
She can request that the family courts grant her sole physical and legal custody of the child.
But she will have to give evidence of how the father is unfit.
(If they are doing through divorce stay at home moms have an easier time proving the child needing them as the nurturing parent.)
Finding Free Child Custody Lawyers For Mothers
There are several ways for finding free child custody lawyers for mothers near me.
Georgia Legal Aid
Georgia Legal Aid is a organization that provides free legal aid to low income families.
They can provide you with free child custody lawyers for mothers in Georgia.
You can find out more information on Georgia Legal Aid.
Government Agencies Providing Free Child Custody Lawyers For Mothers
There are government agencies that provide free child custody lawyers for mothers.
These government agencies work for free for low income families.
These agencies provide low cost child custody legal help.
When to Hire Lawyers for Custody Battles
Are you struggling on whether you need to hire a lawyer for custody battles with your ex?
Here are some scenarios when you should heavily consider a lawyer for custody battles.
- Your ex is hiring a family child custody lawyer.
- You and your ex cannot agree on the terms for child custody.
- Your ex lives in another county or state.
- Your children are in danger with your ex.
- Your ex is preventing you from seeing your children.
- You or your ex are relocating or remarrying.
These are just some of the main reasons people need to hire a family lawyer for child custody.
If you are unsure if you need a lawyer for a custody battle, fill out the form below for a free consultation.
Before You Hire Child Custody Battle Lawyers
Before you go sign some paperwork and hire a custody battle lawyer, there are some things to consider.
Consider Your Financial Resources
A child custody battle is EXPENSIVE.
The cost of an attorney for child custody ranges from $4,000-$20,000+.
But never seeing your children again…
That’s worth spending money to battle your ex for custody.
How Complex Is Your Case?
If one of the parents:
- are relocating out of county or state,
- are remarrying,
- are living with another person,
- are unemployed or have lost their job,
Then your child custody case is a little more complex.
Hiring a full custody lawyer can help you gain full custody when it is in the best interests of the child.
Finding A Family Law Attorney Child Custody Near Me
You’ve already found the best child custody attorneys – The Hive Law.
(Kidding – or am I?)
As virtual child custody lawyers, we represent client all over Georgia.
But the easiest way to find a family law attorney for child custody is doing a simple Google search.
Search for “Family Law Attorney Child Custody Near Me.”
This will spit out results for some of the top rated child custody lawyers near you.
Google is smart in the fact that they know where you live and give you results based on your location.
Vetting Family Custody Lawyers Near Me
Just make sure that you read the reviews.
Super Lawyers, Nolo, Avvo, Etc
These lawyer directories are an easy way to see most of the available child custody lawyers in your area.
Just remember, though, that the lawyers pay to show up on these sites.
They can even pay to show up first in the results.
It can be misleading.
The best way to find the best child custody lawyers is to go Google’s Local Services and find lawyers there.
When you find them, look at the Google Reviews.
These are reviews from real people, who are verified by Google.
Find the highest rated Google Reviews and base your decision on how well the attorneys treated other real people.
Over To You
We’ve broken down all the things to consider when hiring a child custody lawyer in Georgia.
We hope this truly helps you on your journey.
If you’d like a free consultation, fill out the form below and we can hop on a call.
There’s no obligation to use us (we don’t use sales tactics).