Whether you are fighting for child custody or already have custody of your child, getting married can affect child custody in Georgia. While marrying does not automatically trigger a custody battle, your child’s other parent could petition the court for custody based on factors related to your marriage. If you are in a custody battle, your ex-partner could raise issues related to the marriage to try to gain sole custody.

If you are considering getting married during a custody battle, talk with your lawyer before moving forward. Likewise, if you are concerned that your marriage could impact child custody, consult an experienced Lawrenceville child custody lawyer about your situation. 

Georgia Courts Determine Custody Based on the Best Interest of the Child 

Georgia courts can grant joint or sole custody of a child to the parents. When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make decisions for their child, including issues related to education, religious upbringing, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Even though parents might share physical custody, the child typically resides primarily with one parent for stability and continuity of care. The custodial parent is the parent that has the child most of the time. 

Georgia Code §19-9-3 states there is no presumption in favor of either parent for custody. In all child custody cases in Georgia, the courts make decisions based on the best interests of the children.

A judge considers numerous factors when deciding what is best for a child. The statute lists 17 factors to evaluate when deciding what is in the child’s best interest, including:

  • The bonding, love, emotional ties, and affection that exist between the child and each parent
  • The relationship between the child and any siblings or step-siblings and the residence of those children
  • The disposition and ability of each parent to provide for the continued rearing and education of the child, including providing the child with love, guidance, and affection
  • A parent’s knowledge of the child’s needs
  • The disposition and ability of each parent to provide for the child’s basic care and day-to-day needs
  • Each parent’s home environment, concentrating on safety and nurturing instead of material or superficial items
  • The importance of maintaining continuity in a satisfactory, stable environment
  • The stability of each parent’s family unit and the absence or presence of support systems
  • The  physical and mental condition of each parent
  • A parent’s involvement or lack of involvement in the child’s life and activities 
  • A parent’s employment schedule, including limitations and flexibility 
  • The health or educational needs of the child, including the school, community, and home records 
  • Each parent’s history of performance of parenting responsibilities 
  • The ability and willingness to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent 
  • Recommendations by a guardian ad litem or court-appointed custody evaluator
  • Evidence of sexual, physical, or mental child abuse and the criminal history of each parent
  • Evidence of substance abuse by a parent

A judge can also consider any other factors they deem relevant to determine what is in the child’s best interest, including a psychological evaluation. Each parent can present testimony and evidence in court to support their position regarding child custody. 

How Could a New Living Situation or Marriage Impact Child Custody?

It is presumed that you will live with your new spouse when you get married. Therefore, your child will be living in the home with you or visiting the home. You must consider how your new spouse will impact the custody decision.

For example, the judge may examine your new spouse’s background. Does your spouse have a criminal record or a history of domestic violence allegations? If so, their history could give the judge a reason to question whether to grant you custody of your child.

Likewise, does your new partner have children? If so, the judge will evaluate how bringing stepsiblings into the home with your child impacts your child’s well-being and best interests. The same will apply if your new spouse has other relatives that will share the home with your child.

Marriage means changes for everyone. The court is concerned with how those changes impact your child’s best interests. If the judge determines that your remarriage negatively affects your child’s well-being, the court might grant primary physical custody to your child’s other parent. 

How To Prepare for Marriage During a Custody Battle in Georgia

Moving in with someone during a custody battle could impact the outcome of your case. Depending on the factors and situation, you might want to postpone getting married until you have a final custody order.

However, there could be situations in which getting married might improve your position. For example, you might have more stability and a safer home environment if you get married and move in with your spouse.

Regardless of how you feel, do not do anything without talking with your attorney. Your lawyer will analyze all factors and advise you of any potential problems that could arise if you get married during a custody case. 

Contact the Child Custody Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.