Mother’s Rights: How They Work Inside & Outside of Georgia
Edited By: Belinda Martin – Associate Attorney
Understanding a mother’s rights is an important part of addressing custody cases. In the past, it was generally assumed that the mother would receive custody and the father would have visitation rights and provide child support.
But now, changing times have made the rights of mothers less binary than they used to be. The best interest of the child is more commonly the deciding factor, as opposed to automatically giving custody to the mother.
What Are a Mother’s Rights?
Mother’s rights vary based on their state of residence, as not all states see custody issues the same way. Is a mother guaranteed custody? Not necessarily. Whether you’re looking into mother’s rights in Georgia or other states, you want to be clear on the idea that courts are going to look at what the mother and father can provide for their children.
During a divorce, child custody issues in most states, including Georgia, will be based solely on the child’s best interest, not the gender of the custodial parent.
Does a Mother Have Sole Custody for a Child Born Out of Wedlock?
If you’re the mother of a child born out of wedlock in Georgia, you do have the safety of assuming you are the only legal parent of the child. That’s because Georgia law does not recognize putative or biological fathers of children born out of wedlock as legal parents until they seek a court order establishing them as the legal father.
Since Georgia doesn’t automatically recognize the rights of unmarried fathers, you’ll be viewed as the only legal parent for the child. That will result in you having sole custody from the beginning. You and your partner can work with an attorney on custody and parenting plan issues, in order to protect yourself and the best interests of your children.
What Are a Mother’s Rights in Georgia?
In custody cases, a mother’s rights are those that extend to the mother of the child or children in question. When deciding a custody case in Georgia, courts consider that mothers stand on equal footing with any legal father. In other words, the mother doesn’t have an advantage over the father. Common public thought says that mothers have an advantage because that was typical years ago.
Currently, the thinking is that the child could be better off with the mother or the father, depending on that child’s particular circumstances. Georgia family law has moved toward gender neutrality over the years, and you don’t want to assume you’ll automatically be given custody based on motherhood.
There are times when assuming you’ll receive custody makes sense. For example, if there have been issues with child abuse or unsafe environments that directly relate to the child’s father, you’ll be much more likely to receive custody. Protecting the child will be a focus of the court, and if one parent is clearly unsafe, then it’s logical that custody should go to the other parent.
Joint custody is often believed to be in the child’s best interest and is commonly favored by Georgia courts. That way, both the mother and the father get time with the child and have a say in the decisions that are made about education and other factors. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on child custody, that’s often less stressful for everyone involved.
Coming to that agreement can be done through negotiation, mediation, or counseling. In some cases, though, it’s just not possible to solve the issue. In those cases, a judge will take a look at the facts of your divorce case and make a custody ruling based on what they see as the best option for the child.
Because mother’s rights in Georgia aren’t determined in the same way they used to be, it’s important to have an understanding of what a judge will be looking for when it comes to awarding custody. Working with an attorney can help you protect your rights, while doing what’s in the best interest of your child during a divorce and custody case.
Turn to Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor for Your Family Law Needs
If you’re a mother in the Atlanta-area looking to better understand your rights as a mother, we’re here to help. From consultation to representation, our dedicated team of attorneys will make sure you get the information you need and the service you deserve.