Gainesville Child Custody Attorney

Lawyer assists parents with matters related to legal authority and time-sharing

It can be very difficult for children when their parents break up, but sound guidance from a seasoned Georgia family law attorney can ease the burden on young people, as well as their parents. At The Brownell Law Office in Gainesville, Attorney William (Bill) M. Brownell advises clients on divorce proceedings and other matters where there are issues relating to child custody and visitation. Our firm uses negotiation, mediation and litigation, if necessary, to secure arrangements that create a supportive environment for our clients’ sons and daughters.

Comprehensive guidance on custody and visitation arrangements

After a divorce where the spouses have one or more minor children, or a breakup between unmarried parents, a court order creates enforceable terms governing the relationships between parents and children going forward. Elements of a child custody order can address:

  • Physical and legal custody — There are two aspects of child custody in Georgia. Physical custody refers to where the youth will reside while legal custody covers the authority that parents have to make important decisions relating their child’s upbringing.
  • Sole and joint custody — Both types of custody can be awarded exclusively to one parent or to both on a joint basis. Often, legal custody is shared so that mothers and fathers both have a say in choices regarding medical treatment, education and religious upbringing. Sole physical custody often is more practical so that the child can live primarily within one school district.
  • Visitation — When one parent is granted sole physical custody, the other typically receives visitation rights according to a schedule set forth in the parenting plan.
  • Shared parenting — In cases where parents live in close proximity and are willing to cooperate on frequent transportation between homes, legal and physical custody might be shared. This does not necessarily mean that the youth will spend equal time in both residences. 

As an experienced Georgia family law attorney, Mr. Brownell understands the importance of finding the right solution and develops a comprehensive custody plan that benefits children and their parents.

Factors used by courts during custody determinations

Neither mothers nor fathers are favored by Georgia law in custody decisions. Judges are bound to issue orders based on what they believe to be in the child’s best interests. Any relevant information can be considered, and the pertinent statute provides a list of several commonly used factors, which include:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide care, love and guidance to the child
  • The home environment of each parent
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • How a particular parenting arrangement will affect the child’s routine
  • Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with their former partner on parenting issues
  • Any parental history of physical, mental or sexual abuse
  • Any parental substance abuse problem

Each situation is unique, and our firm takes your son or daughter’s particular circumstances into account when advocating for an appropriate child custody arrangement.

Developing a parenting plan

When possible, it is usually best for parents to cooperate on a parenting plan that can then be submitted to the judge. These documents include precise language on various important issues, including decision-making authority, residential custody and visitation schedules. If you are having difficulty finding common ground on these issues, Mr. Brownell can advise on ways to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

Relocation requests and other modifications to custody terms

As children grow and parents move forward with their lives, changes in circumstances might compel a parent to seek a modification of an existing custody order. Sometimes, parents can agree on the revision and present an uncontested petition to the court. If not, each side argues their side before a judge.  Many of the most difficult modification requests involve a custodial parent’s relocation to a new home with their child. In these cases, the party intending to move must notify their co-parent at least 30 days before departing. Should the non-moving parent object to the relocation, the court will make a decision based on the reason for the relocation, the effect on visitation arrangements and other factors. As with all modification determinations, the resolution will be based on what the judge believes to be in the youth’s best interests.

Enforcement of custody orders

A child custody order is not just an agreement between parents, but a directive from the court that can include serious penalties for violations. If your ex is not allowing scheduled visits or failing to comply with your parenting plan in some other way, we can try to correct the situation through communication between the parties or by petitioning the court. Potential remedies include making changes to the terms of the custody order and even misdemeanor criminal charges that can lead to a fine and possible incarceration. 

Contact a knowledgeable Georgia lawyer regarding your child custody issue

The Brownell Law Office handles child custody matters and other family law challenges for clients throughout Hall, Lumpkin, Dawson, White, Habersham, Banks, Jackson, Gwinnett, Barrow and Forsyth counties. For a consultation with Mr. Brownell, please call 770-215-0184 or contact us online. Our office is located in Gainesville.