Georgia Child Custody Forms and Process

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

When a couple ends their relationship, there are many changes that accompany the split. But one of the most significant issues that needs to be resolved centers around the custody of any children that are involved. "Where will the children live?" and "who will make important life decisions for them?" are questions that can be resolved by the parents through agreement, or through the court when the issue is contested.

Despite the uniformity in state laws, each state has its own unique process for filing for custody that includes establishing legitimation (if applicable), determining the proper venue, and completing specific forms.

Establishing Legitimation

Under Georgia law, a husband is the presumptive father of children born during the marriage; if the biological father isn't married to the child's mother, he doesn't have automatic legal rights as a father. However, the legitimation allows the father to be recognized legally when the parents aren't married to each other. Then the father can have custody and visitation rights.

To establish this, a voluntary declaration is made that both parents consent and agree that the father-child relationship should be considered legitimate. Both parents' signatures are required for the "Legitimation" section of the Paternity Acknowledgment Form.

Georgia Child Custody Forms and Process Overview

While it's best to consult with an attorney in complex cases, a guide written in plain language can be a practical resource for following child custody law. See the chart below for an overview of the child custody process in Georgia, including links to relevant statutes and forms.

Statutes

Statutes

Forms

 

Filing for Custody

 

Establish Proper Venue

Your child must have lived in the Georgia county for at least 6 months prior to the filing.

The Petition

The process begins with the drafting of the petition. Unless otherwise permitted, you must file a separate petition for each child.

Parenting Plans

Parenting Plan

Georgia law mandates a parenting plan that details the proposed schedule for your child including custody and visitation. It must be submitted to the court in all custody cases. If parents agree, they can file jointly. If not, each parent must submit a plan separately.

Types of Custody

In Georgia, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody grants decision-making rights to the parent and physical custody determines what parent the child will live with. You may file for both. Custody is further divided into sole custody (meaning only one parent has custody) and joint custody (both parents share custody).

Mediation

If there's no agreement about the parenting plan, you can participate in third party mediation, the process that attempts to resolve decisions about the plan.

Custody Hearing

If custody issues cannot be resolved by the parties on their own or through mediation, a custody hearing will take place.

Each side will present evidence in the case. Georgia allows children who are at least 14 to state their preference, but the decision is still based on the "best interests of the child" factors.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Georgia Child Custody Forms and Process: Related Resources

Discuss Georgia's Child Custody Process with an Attorney

If you're involved in a custody dispute in Georgia, you might be intimidated by the child custody process because of the numerous accompanying forms involved and all the steps you must take. It's a good idea to get connected with an experienced Georgia legal child custody attorney who can assist with arriving at the best possible custody outcome for your child.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.