Johns Creek Equitable Caregiver Lawyer
Over the last few years, Georgia family law has evolved to accommodate non-traditional families. For instance, in recognition of the fact that many children are not raised by their biological parents, but by another primary caregiver, such as a grandparent, stepparent, or same-sex partner, Georgia lawmakers recently passed the Equitable Caregivers’ Act. This law gives legal status to adults who are not a child’s biological parent or grandparent, but who play a fundamental role as a provider for that child.
As a result of the passage of this law, these individuals can now be granted a legally recognized parental role and given custody of non-biological children in certain cases. To learn more about the Equitable Caregiver Act and how it could affect your own custody rights, please call one of our dedicated Johns Creek equitable caregiver lawyers today.
Designation as an Equitable Caregiver
Under Georgia law, there are two ways that a non-biological person can be named a child’s equitable caregiver through litigation or by consent. The former will require the petitioner to prove that he or she:
- Has fully and completely undertaken a permanent parental role in the child’s life;
- Has consistently taken care of the child;
- Has established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child and that the relationship is understood and supported by the parent’s child;
- Is willing to accept full and permanent responsibility as a child’s parent without expecting financial compensation; and
- Has demonstrated that the child will suffer emotional or physical harm and that continuing the relationship is in that child’s best interests.
When assessing whether this last factor has been satisfied, meaning that a petitioner can establish the risk of physical or emotional harm, courts are directed to consider the following factors:
- The identities of the child’s past and present caretakers;
- Who the child has formed psychological bonds with;
- Whether competing parties have shown an interest in the child over time; and
- Whether the child has unique needs that one party is better able to meet.
Georgia courts can also designate a person as a child’s equitable caregiver if the child’s parents:
- Consent to the parental relationship between the petitioner and the child; or
- Enter into a written agreement with the petitioner, indicating the intention to share caregiving responsibilities.
The Duties of an Equitable Caregiver
It’s important to note that by establishing someone as a child’s equitable caregiver, courts are not eliminating a biological parent’s rights. Instead, the law merely gives judges more flexibility when making decisions about custody and visitation. Now, adults who have taken care of a child or fulfilled a parental role, can obtain recognition as that child’s legal parent, or be granted the right to continue to foster an ongoing relationship. Furthermore, judges can no longer remove a child from a non-parent’s custody simply because he or she isn’t a child’s biological parent.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
If you need help asking the court to designate you as a child’s caregiver, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the experienced Johns Creek equitable caregiver lawyers at Buckhead Family Law today. We can be reached at 470-600-6699 or via online message.