Know the Laws: Georgia
UPDATED July 23, 2014
This page includes information about custody that is specific to this state. There is also a page for general custody information that you may find helpful.
If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).
However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice BEFORE you start a court case to ask for supervised visits. We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.
In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure. Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time -- and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.
In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to GA Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.
Generally, the state of Georgia encourages a child to have continuing contact with both parents.* However, custody will be determined according to what the judge considers to be in the child’s best interest. The judge may consider any relevant factor including, but not limited to the following:
In cases involving children who are 14 years old or older, the child will have the right to select which parent s/he wants to live with. The child’s choice will be honored unless the judge determines it is not in the child’s best interest. If your custody order was decided before your child turned 14, you may be able to modify your custody order based on your child’s preference once s/he turns 14. So, for example, if you lost custody of your child when the child was 10 and now that your child is 14, s/he tells you s/he wants to live with you, you can file a petition to modify the custody order based on your child’s desire to live with you. If the judge believes it is in the child’s best interest to live with you, the judge might modify (change) the custody order.*
In cases where the child is between the ages of 11-13, the judge will consider who the child wants to live with; however, the judge will not necessarily honor this preference.**
* O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(5)
** O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(6)