One of the most important decisions a grandparent can make is how to handle their grandchild’s custody case. When they’re left out of the decision-making process, it becomes almost impossible for them to get what they want and need from the court.
By understanding your rights as a grandparent, you’ll be able to protect yourself and your grandchildren in this difficult time. The Family Law Attorneys at the Bell & Washington Law Firm advocate for the rights of grandparents every day in court, and we’re here to help you understand your rights too.
What are Grandparents’ Visitation Rights in Georgia?
Grandparents have a right to visitation if they don’t have custody of their minor grandchildren. This is called “reasonable visitation,” and the laws in Georgia support a grandparent’s legal right to see and spend time with their grandchildren.
Georgia Code (O.C.G.A. 19-7-3) makes it possible for grandparents to file a petition seeking visitation rights in custody actions, such as divorce, adoption and termination of parental rights.
However, there are some limitations to petitioning the court in this matter. Firstly, grandparents can only petition for visitation rights once every two years. Secondly, they can’t seek visitation with the minor grandchild who lives with both parents if those parents haven’t separated.
What are Grandparents’ Custodial Rights?
If a grandparent wants custody of their grandchildren, they’ll need to prove that it’s in the best interests of the minor grandchild. This can be done by showing that the parents are unfit or that there is some other compelling reason why the child should live with them instead of the parents.
These cases can be incredibly complex, so it’s important to have an experienced Family Law Attorney on your side like those at the Bell & Washington Law Firm.
How to Petition for Custody in Georgia
As you can see, it is possible for grandparents in Georgia to get custody of their grandchildren. However, it’s important to note that it’s often not an easy task.
To do it, a petition is filed in Superior Court and requires the grandparent or third party to demonstrate compelling reasons that 1) Parental custody will cause harm to the child, harm meaning either physical harm or significant and long-term emotional harm, or 2) awarding custody of the minor child is best for promoting the child’s health, happiness and welfare.
If you’re considering petitioning for custody of your grandchildren, please consult with one of our Family Law Attorneys at the Bell & Washington Law Firm. We can get your questions answered and will work hard to find the best outcome for you. Our goal is to make sure that every family goes through this difficult time as smoothly, easily and efficiently as possible.
How to File a Dependency Petition in Georgia
A dependency petition is a little different, and it is filed in the Juvenile Court. This type of petition is used when the parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children.
To file a dependency petition, you’ll need to provide evidence that the child is dependent on someone else for food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs. You can also provide evidence that the child has been neglected or abused by the parents or by someone else in the home.
A petition to terminate parental rights may be filed when a child has been removed from his/her parents and placed with you if it is believed that returning the child to their parent will likely result in serious injury.
What is the Attorney’s Role in All of This?
An attorney’s role is to advocate and be the voice for your continued involvement in your grandchild’s life. The professional Family Law Attorneys at Bell& Washington are family-oriented and understand the importance of grandparents in a child’s life.
We will help you every step of the way, from filing the necessary paperwork to appearing in court on your behalf. We want what is best for both you and your grandchildren and will do everything possible to make sure that happens.
Contact the Family Law Attorneys at Bell & Washington Today
If you’re a grandparent or third party who is seeking custody of your grandchildren, it’s crucial to have an attorney represent you in court. The law can be complicated and confusing and having an experienced attorney on your side will help make sure that you get the best possible outcome for yourself and your grandchildren, even if you decide to settle out of court.
With over 50 years of combined family law experience, the Bell & Washington law firm is here to help you understand your rights and the specifics of your situation. Contact us today at 404.437.6641 to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal options for visitation or custody rights as a third party or grandparent.