How do mothers win custody of their children in Georgia courts? The answer is you do so by following the law. In particular you need to under how the “best interest of the child” is defined under Georgia law. This is the same thing that I discuss under FAQ topic “how can father’s win custody of their children.” The best interest of a child is not just what a judge thinks it is. The term best interest of the child is actually defined under Georgia law into 17 different elements, that in total, comprise what the best interest of the child is. The text of the relevant statute can be found here: http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-19/chapter-9/article-1/19-9-3
What happens too often when representing a mother in a child custody case, and particularly a stay-at-home mother, or a mother of a baby, toddler, or young child, is that the attorney will start and stop their strategy by defining the mother as a “good mother” and assume that no Georgia court will take away children from a good mother. This strategy is simply dangerous to the mother, and ignores what the “best interest of the child” means under the law. Yes, the strategy can often win, but mostly because the fathers attorney also takes for granted what the term best interest of the child means under the law as well. This strategy will often fail in cases where the father retains very good counsel who does not take the term “best interest of the child” for granted.
Consider, for example what the elements of the child custody statute are, and how the “good mother” strategy is not adequate:
- 3 of the first 4 elements of the Georgia child custody statute (which contains a total of 17) are what most would consider elements that are the “good mother” elements. And thus good mothers are likely to do very well on these elements of the child custody statute:
- Love, affection, bonding between parent and child;
- Capacity of each parent to give love, affection, and guide education and rearing of child;
- Knowledge and familiarity of parent to the needs of the child.
What is overlooked by attorneys employing the “good mother” strategy is that you do not need to be a stay-at-home mother, or even the primary parent, to have love and affection for your child, to have the capacity and disposition to love and educate your child, nor to be familiar with the needs of your child. In fact PRIMARY PARENTS DO NOT HAVE A MONOPOLY ON THESE ELEMENTS. You can be the best “good mother” on the planet, and yet, the father can also possess these parenting characteristics with these children. In cases where the father does not, then often you need go no further to win your case, but in cases where you have good dads, your case cannot rely on the good mother strategy alone.
Combine this with the fact that courts expect, and in fact, in most cases, will DEMAND, that mothers obtain employment, and you can see how the “good mother” strategy can be defeated by attorneys who follow all of the law.
Beyond being a “good mother” a mother will need to get a job sufficient to support themselves and their children (along with expected child support). Do not, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT tell the court that your career is your family. It may be true, but it will hurt you in most child custody cases.
Mothers need to have a plan in their child custody cases in Georgia courts that go beyond the “good mother” elements of the “best interest of the child”.
- You need to define how you will support yourself; or at least your real and practical plan to go to school and become self supporting for yourself and your children;
- You need to plan on how you will provide a stable home and environment for the children, particularly as in many cases, you may be starting over while the fathers career may be more stable, or he will keep the home…generalizing of course, but this is more often the case for women in divorces than for men.
- You need to demonstrate your ability and willingness to co-parent with the father (there are many reasons given why you cannot get along with the father, but IF YOU WANT TO WIN YOUR CASE, talk with your attorney, and learn how you need to behave in regard to being a co-parent, whether he reciprocates or not).
- How you will provide continuity for your children;
- How you will maintain relationships with half siblings or step-siblings, with family members;
- Your education plans for your children…and each and every element under the statute.
The law in the State of Georgia for an award of child custody is the same for mothers as it is for fathers. However, how the law is applied differs in many respects. You win child custody cases in the State of Georgia for mothers by following the law. You lose cases by taking for granted what the term “best interest of the children” means, and by relying on the “good mother” strategy. Do not limit your case strategy in this manner in a Georgia child custody case. Call it mother’s rights, or whatever you want to, but it is simply being a good and competent attorney. Relying on the “good mother” strategy and ignoring the law is not being a good attorney.
Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.