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Atlanta Divorce Lawyer > Marietta Equitable Caregiver Lawyer

Georgia law has historically allowed only blood relatives to seek custody of a child. But the state recently expanded the ability of non-relatives who have taken care of a child before to request physical and legal custody. This is the state’s Equitable Caregiver statute. If you are worried about a child, please contact Buckhead Family Law today. We have experience helping relatives and non-relatives seek custody. The process is complex, and you will benefit greatly from the assistance of a seasoned Marietta equitably caregiver lawyer.

The equitable caregiver statute is located at O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.1. It states that a person will qualify as an equitable caregiver only if they meet the following:

  • You have fully undertaken a parental role in a committed, unequivocal, and permanent manner
  • You have provided consistent caretaking without expecting any compensation
  • You have a bonded, dependent relationship with the child, which the child’s parent has fostered
  • The parent has acknowledged your relationship with the child

There are many situations where a person could qualify as an equitable caregiver. For example, a mother might start dating a new partner, who takes over the role as father. If he never adopts the children, he could seek to become the equitable caregiver after her death or after they separate.

Partners in LGBT relationships have also used the law effectively where the non-biological parent has never formally adopted the child. This parent might seek custody after the couple breaks up or after the other parent dies. To determine whether you can become an equitable caregiver, contact our Marietta family lawyer today.

Even if you fulfill the criteria as an equitable caregiver, a judge will not grant custody unless you show the child would suffer harm if not placed with you. The harm should be physical or long-term emotional harm. Judges always make decisions for children based on their “best interests,” so you must convince a judge that the child will flourish with you.

Judges take a holistic view of the situation. They can look at any relevant factor, but the statute does lay out what judges should consider:

  • Who has served as the child’s caretaker
  • The strength of the child’s psychological bonds
  • Whether the child has unique needs that one person is best able to meet

To be successful, our clients must present evidence of their bond with the child. Generally, your testimony alone will not be sufficient. We rely on other evidence to help make the relationship vivid for the judge.

Those hoping to take advantage of the law need to submit a petition to a competent court requesting custody. Family court is not the place for people to try and represent themselves—too much is on the line. Instead, contact Buckhead Family Law to schedule a time to meet with one of our lawyers.

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