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Custody

Although Georgia law presumes that it is generally in the best interest of children to remain in the custody of their parents, grandparents may successfully intervene in divorce cases and other cases involving the determination of child custody to obtain custody of their grandchild or to obtain visitation rights with their grandchild. O.C.G.A. §§ 19-7-1 (b.1) & 19-7-3(b); see also Walls v. Walls, 278 Ga. 206 (2004). For further discussion specific to grandparent visitation rights in Georgia, see our article entitled “Grandparents’ Rights: Visitation.” One exception to this allowance is that grandparents may not generally intervene in adoption proceedings between a child’s parents and a third party. Baum v. Moore, 230 Ga.App. 255 (1998). For more information specific to adoption and the respective rights of grandparents and other relatives, see our series of articles concerning adoption.

According to Georgia statutory law:

“…in any action involving the custody of a child between the parents or either parent and a third party limited to grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, great aunt, great uncle, sibling, or adoptive parent, parental power may be lost by the parent, parents, or any other person if the court hearing the issue of custody, in the exercise of its sound discretion and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, determines that an award of custody to such third party is for the best interest of the child or children and will best promote their welfare and happiness. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interest of the child or children for custody to be awarded to the parent or parents of such child or children, but this presumption may be overcome by a showing that an award of custody to such third party is in the best interest of the child or children. The sole issue for determination in any such case shall be what is in the best interest of the child or children.”

O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1(b.1).

Thus, according to this statute, a grandparent may obtain custody of his or her grandchild if the court presiding over the custody related matter determines that it would be in the child’s best interest for the grandparent to be awarded custody.

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