Atlanta Child Custody Modification Attorneys
In most cases, the law requires a substantial change in circumstances to reverse a court order for physical custody. Courts are especially reluctant to award sole custody, which cuts one parent out of the picture.
Reversal of Physical Custody
Physical custody refers to the child’s primary residence. The child lives with one parent, but the other parent has regular visitation and joint legal custody (decision-making). Under certain circumstances, it may be prudent or necessary for the child to live with the other parent:
- An older child wishes to switch households.
- The primary parent has a new work schedule.
- The primary parent is relocating far away.
- A child is having problems in school.
- A new spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend has moved in.
- The primary parent needs to address personal problems.
The parent who is giving up primary custody will still have visitation, unless it would be unhealthy for the child. Petitions to switch custody may be an agreement between parents. They may be contested, requiring the involvement of a guardian ad litem (child advocate), social workers and other professionals to advise the court on what is best for the child. Either way, you should have an attorney to ensure your legal interests are protected.
Petitions for Sole Custody
Either parent can move for sole custody. The primary parent may believe that continued contact with the non-custodial parent is harmful to the child’s well-being. Sole custody would cut off visitation, or allow only supervised visitation.
The non-custodial parent can also sue for sole custody. This requires a showing that the primary parent is unfit because of incarceration, drug use or alcohol addiction, child abuse or neglect, domestic violence in the home, mental illness or other circumstances that present a clear danger or detriment to the child.
Sole custody disputes tend to be very heated and nasty, with accusations flying back and forth. The court is very reluctant to terminate one parent’s access and involvement in raising a child, and it will carefully consider whether sole custody is the solution.