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Why you need to speak with an attorney

Child custody laws differ from state to state. Because of this, if you have questions concerning your child custody agreement in Georgia, you should first speak with a Georgia family law attorney before you act, regardless of how well-intended or "in the right" you believe yourself to be.

A man and his stepfather pled guilty to lesser criminal charges in a child custody case that could have sent them to prison for kidnapping. His child's mother had moved to Georgia from Michigan but didn't inform him of this move. He later visited last Christmas, and when the mother left them alone, he and his stepfather took the child and returned to Michigan.

This violated Georgia law, and he was arrested and faced kidnapping charges for the abduction. He was apparently give some legal advice that he misunderstood and thought it was permitted because he took the child on a week when he would have had custody.

Part of the problem was the couple only had a verbal custody agreement. This is a bad idea, as it allows for misunderstandings and lack precision. During a divorce, your child custody agreement and the parenting plan must be in writing and should be as detailed as possible, with weekly schedules, holidays, birthdays, vacations, summer camps and all other significant dates.

Even if you have joint legal and physical custody, you should have a process to deal with situations such as how to deal with medical decisions if one parent is traveling and contacting them is impossible.

The clearer your agreement and the better expectations are set, the better your relationship will function and you can avoid the possibility of facing criminal charges for kidnapping your own child.

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