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Atlanta Divorce Lawyer > Alpharetta Equitable Caregiver Lawyer

In 2019, Georgia enacted the Equitable Caregiver Act (the “ECA”), which expanded the qualifying classes of people that courts are allowed to award child custody to in Georgia. It’s becoming more common for grandparents and other family members to be caregivers for children. Unfortunately, someone like a stepparent or another non-biological-related adult has questionable rights when it comes to being a caregiver. The ECA changes that in Georgia, giving certain people to fight for custody of a child. To learn more about the ECA in Georgia, contact an Alpharetta equitable caregiver lawyer.

A child’s biological parents typically have parental rights, which means they have the legal right to determine how to care for their children and what actions they need to take to ensure the child’s best interests are always being considered. When a biological parent is unable to be the caretaker, someone else needs to step in and look after the children.

The court usually tries to find another family member who can care for the children. Prior to the Equitable Caregiver Act being enacted, the only qualified parties were siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Now, the ECA gives non-biological related adults the right to apply for parental rights or visitation. It’s important to note that the ECA does not extinguish the parental rights of a biological parent. It only allows a third-party who has a long-term parental bond with the child to petition the court to establish themselves as the legal caregiver.

People who only have tangential relationships with the child will not be successful in pursuing parental rights under the ECA. If you want to apply as an Equitable Caregiver, you must show the court that you have:

  • Completely undertaken a committed, permanent, responsible, and unequivocal parental role in the child’s life;
  • Engaged in dependable and consistent caretaking duties of the minor child;
  • Established a dependent and bonded relationship with the minor, and is one that was supported by one of the child’s parents; and both the adult and biological parent acknowledged, understood, or accepted that the individual pursuing rights under the ECA is a parent of the child; and
  • Accepted permanent and full responsibilities as the child’s parent without expecting any financial compensation.

In addition to these elements, you also need to show that the child is at risk of suffering long-term emotional or physical harm if your relationship is terminated, and that you continuing in a caregiver role is what’s in the child’s best interests. The court will look at factors such as who is currently caretaker, who formerly was caretaker, and what kinds of bonds the child has developed with these people. Are there competing parties and are there any special needs, either physical or psychological, that one potential caregiver is more adept at meeting?

If you want to learn more about applying for a caregiver under the ECA, it’s imperative to speak with an Alpharetta equitable caregiver attorney who has experience with these matters. Contact Buckhead Family Law today to schedule an initial consultation to learn how we can help you apply for custody under this newly enacted Georgia law.

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