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Aunt & Uncle Win Interesting Georgia Child Custody Battle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jonathan Brezel   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 08:34

If you need help with child support or child custody, contact the family law attorneys of Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor todayIn mid-September, our Associate Attorney, Jonathan Brezel, worked on a child custody case that is rarely seen at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor. Typically, we deal with parents’ or grandparents’ visitation rights. This is a rare situation where we moved under the Georgia code for a third party to obtain custody from a parent who is determined to be unfit to care for their child or children. 

Jonathan filed a third-party custody case representing an aunt and uncle against the biological mother of two young children. The aunt and uncle have been caring for the children since the mother lost custody of them during a juvenile court proceeding back in 2009. Typically, when a parent loses custody in a juvenile court case, the juvenile courts like to reunite the child(ren) with their biological parent(s), but in this case, the unfit mother, who suffered from drug issues, failed to complete the reunification plan implemented by the juvenile court. Juvenile court orders typically last for two years, and although the uncle and aunt had received a second order in 2011 extending their temporary guardianship over the children, Jonathan’s clients desired a more permanent solution that would grant them and the children comfort that the minor children would not be suddenly and unjustly removed from their home.

There was particular concern with the youngest child, who suffers from emotional and psychological issues. Every time the youngest child saw the biological mother, the child would experience anxiety and withdrawal.

The Outcome of this Unique Child Custody Case

At court Jonathan successfully reached an agreement where the uncle and aunt would retain physical custody and also negotiated a provision that unsupervised visits would not be possible until the children reach the age 18. In addition, Jonathan was able to implement a plan where the children’s biological mother would be required to attend individual counseling sessions before she would be allowed to exercise visitation with the youngest child. When the mother completed a sufficient number of sessions, her counselor would meet with the children’s therapist. Once the child’s therapist consented, the parties will attend family counseling sessions in order to ease the mother back into the youngest child’s life.  Finally when the parties had attended a satisfactory number of counseling sessions the mother would be allowed to visit her children under the supervision of the aunt and uncle every other Sunday. 

It’s also worth noting that the mother is required to provide the aunt and uncle with child support for their continued to care of the children. 

For now, the children’s fear about being returned their biological mother has been eliminated. According to Georgia law, the aunt and uncle are now the children’s legal physical custodians. 

Contact Our Atlanta Family Law Attorneys Today

The family law and child support attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor have extensive experience representing the best interests of children in family law matters. Our team serves as an advocate for families throughout the Atlanta Metro Area. We will help you discuss your situation and understand your options. To schedule a consultation today, call us at 678-905-8492 or complete our simple contact form.

Five Crucial Mistakes Made In Georgia Child Custody Battles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery   
Sunday, 21 July 2013 23:27

While the divorce process can be very difficult to go through and overcome, it can be extremely stressful and challenging when it comes to fighting for child custody and child support in a Georgia courtroom.

With years of experience and dozens of Georgia child custody and support cases under our belt, our team of attorneys have put together a list of the top five crucial mistakes parents should avoid making during legal proceedings.


Avoid These Common Custody Battle Mistakes

1. Alienating your children. This is often the number one mistake many disgruntled parents can make. Kids are very fragile and vulnerable during a divorce and if an upset parent wants to seek revenge, they’ll take it upon themselves  to tell their children to despise and stop caring for the other parent. In a situation where your ex is influencing your children negatively,  seek legal counsel immediately and take action.

2. Letting your emotions get the best of you. While this can happen in any legal case, where parents are battling for their kids, emotions are extremely high and tempers can easily flare up. Set your emotions aside and focus on the legal aspects  and what you have to offer as the custodial parent. Many child custody battles are lost due to irrational behavior and emotional outbursts. The last thing you’d want to do is lose your kids due to being an emotional ticking time bomb.

3. Your actions and behavior. From the moment you and your spouse decide to separate, divorce, and file for child custody and support, keep an eye on what you say and do. Believe that your actions and sayings will be recorded and can be used against you as evidence in the court room. Be  particularly careful what you say online, especially on social media. Everyone is capable of taking a screenshot of a post on social networks and this can be used as evidence and influence the judge’s ruling. In addition, be careful what you tell your kids, and even friends and family members, about your case. Remember the infamous phrase, “what goes around comes around.”

4. Assuming anything. Whether it involves moving out of the jurisdiction or out of state with your children or assuming you don’t have to pay any child support, don’t assume you can do it and get away with it without talking about it with your ex. Communicate any decisions or feelings you have to the other party (and your attorney if applicable) and come to an agreement. Always put the best interest of your children first and follow court orders to avoid further negative consequences.

5. Failing to hire an attorney. You may think you can handle your case on your own, but that’s just not realistic . Protect yourself and your interests and discuss your case with an experienced family law attorney. They will serve as your advocate and give you the best advice possible.

Contact Our Caring and Experienced Georgia Family Law Attorneys Today

Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor’s founder Mary Stearns-Montgomery has extensive experience representing the best interests of children in family law matters. Mary, along with our divorce and family law attorneys, serves as an advocate for families throughout the Atlanta Metro Area. We will help review your case and understand your options. To schedule a consultation today, contact us at 678-905-8492 or complete a contact form.

Custody Issues | 5 Tips For Child Custody Modification PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery   
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 14:18


Often times there may be circumstances such as being laid off from your job, an unexpected trip to the hospital, or change in marital status where child custody and support modification is needed. Modification may involve lowering child support payments or receiving more child support. Therefore parents must agree on the change or have the judge order the change. If you think you need to modify your child custody and support agreement, consider the following five tips:

  1. Plan Ahead: If you foresee changes happening that will affect your ability to pay child support, act quickly. Be responsible and inform all the appropriate parties. There are circumstances that may arise such as an injury or job loss as well as career change.
  2. Inform Yourself: Keep yourself informed and up-to-date with the latest state rules and regulations. Consult with your family law attorney and also the Georgia Department of Human Services website for all child support services information and important notices.
  3. Talk with the other parent to reach an agreement: Keep in mind your child custody and support agreement is agreed upon both the parents. Be civil and cooperative while undergoing changes to your agreement. If additional litigation is needed, it can be very costly and time consuming to reach an agreement. It’s in your best interest to be able to agree outside of the courtroom.
  4. Keep making child support payments to the best of your ability: Continue to make your payments as required under your current child support order. The existing child support order remains in effect until the court issues a new child support order. It will only hurt you in the long run if you let your child support payments lapse and go unpaid.
  5. Document your changes: If there are any changes to your current situation be sure to record all changes. Present any and necessary documents to your family law attorney and parties involved that may affect your modified child custody and support agreement.

If and when you have finalized your child support modification, be sure to file your request with the appropriate court and have it served to the other parent.

Speak with a caring child custody and support attorney. Our firm’s founder Mary Stearns-Montgomery has extensive experience representing the best interests of children in family law matter. Mary, along with our family law attorneys, act as advocates for families throughout the Atlanta and Marietta area and will help understand your options. Contact us today or complete our contact form and schedule an initial consultation today.

What is Legal Child Custody in the State of Georgia? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mary Stearns-Montgomery   
Monday, 01 October 2012 09:22

There are several terms we use in a child custody case including legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, and joint custody. The State of Georgia has its own set of laws on regulating and awarding child custody.

Georgia Courts Consider Best Interests of Child for Custody

child-custodyIn the State of Georgia, when making custody decisions, the courts consider the best interests of the child. Under Georgia law, a married couple is equal when it comes to child custody arrangements. The court may award joint custody or sole custody. Legal custody of a child means having the obligation and the right to make decisions about your child’s upbringing. A parent with primary legal custody can make final and major decisions about where the child goes to school, how they practice religion, who they receive medical care from, and extracurricular activities. Physical custody refers to where the child is physically living.

Georgia Children 14 Years or Older have Input

According to the child custody laws in Georgia, children 14 years of age or older have the ability to express their desire about which parent they prefer to live with. However, a parenting plan is required for any custody agreement.

Our attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery and Proctor are advocates for families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area. Understand your options and let us support you through this process with an initial consultation. Contact us today.


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