Atlanta Grandparent & Third-Party Rights Attorneys
Fighting for Your Rights Under Georgia Law
Under Georgia law, grandparents and third parties have the right to petition the courts for visitation or even custody of a child in certain circumstances. It is public policy to acknowledge that minor children generally should have continuing contact with grandparents who enhance the lives of their grandchildren through nurturing relationships. Georgia also recognizes the advent of non-traditional families in our changing society wherein a child’s primary caregiver could be someone other than the biological parent. However, in all cases regarding child custody and visitation, the courts strongly adhere to the overarching rule of serving a child’s best interests and giving presumptive power to parental custody except where it can be shown that a parent is unfit.
If you need legal help understanding and pursuing your legal rights as a grandparent, other relative, or even an unrelated third party in relationship to a child, you should turn to KF Law, LLC. Our firm is well-versed in the laws governing these matters and has resolved many disputes and cases pertaining to them. With many combined decades of family law experience to apply to your case, we bring an abundance of knowledge and skills to helping you pursue a favorable outcome.
Grandparent Rights in Georgia
The state of Georgia recognizes that grandparents often play an important part in their grandchildren’s lives. When that relationship is halted due to some change in the child’s circumstances, it can have a negative effect on the child. Thus, In Georgia, grandparents can seek both custody and visitation rights for a grandchild. However, Georgia does not allow this when a child lives with both parents and the family remains intact.
Seeking grandparent rights commonly comes about as a result of:
- A parent of the grandchild has passed away
- The parents of the grandchild have separated or divorced
- The grandchild has been living with and being cared for by the grandparent(s)
A grandchild may end up being cared for by grandparents when a parent is unable to care for the child due to substance abuse, incarceration, illness or injury, domestic violence, or military duty. In such cases, the grandparent has essentially become the primary caregiver of the child and has a right to seek custody. Other family members may also seek custody of a child, such as great grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, and adoptive parents. It must be shown to the court in these cases that awarding custody to grandparents or other family members serves the best interests of the child.
Visitation rights may be sought when death, divorce, or separation of the parents has occurred or parental rights have been terminated and the grandparent is being denied access to the child. The state allows other family members as well to seek reasonable visitation rights in such a situation if it can be shown that the child’s welfare would suffer if visitation were not permitted and that visitation is in the child’s best interests. This can be a difficult burden of proof to demonstrate which is why you should rely on an experienced attorney.
Georgia’s Equitable Caregivers Act
Under Georgia’s Equitable Caregivers Act, unrelated third parties can petition the court for parental rights to a child. The law allows the court to grant legal status as an “equitable caregiver” to a person who has acted as the child’s parent and provided for the child but who is not the child’s biological or legal parent. These are individuals who have established a strong and loving relationship with the child such as a stepparent or other unrelated adult.
Courts will look at various factors to determine if this legal status should be granted. Factors include whether any type of agreement has been made between the parent and the third party concerning the child’s relationship with the third party, how completely a parental role the third party has taken in the child’s life, how consistently the third party has cared for the child, and more. Individuals seeking an equitable caregiver status must demonstrate to the court that the child’s wellbeing would be harmed if the relationship is terminated and that it is in the child’s best interests to continue it.
Being granted legal status as an equitable caregiver does not terminate the parental rights of the biological parent(s). Rather, it establishes the equitable caregiver as a third parent. The issues of custody, support, and visitation will still need to be determined and arranged through the court.
Why You Need Representation from KF Law, LLC
Establishing your legal rights to a child as a grandparent, other family member, or as a third party require clear and convincing evidence in support of your petition. Our Atlanta grandparent and third-party rights lawyers are well-versed in the laws pertaining to these issues, how the local courts operate regarding them, and what case preparation is needed to help you win the outcome you seek. We advise that you discuss the specifics of your situation with one of our attorneys to get the understanding and representation you need.