The Broad Latitude of Courts in Custody Proceedings

When it comes to child custody and questions regarding the mental or physical capacity of one or both of the parents, family courts throughout Georgia and the rest of the country have wide-ranging powers to control, compel and make orders.

“Courts have wide authority to order just about anything once physical or mental capability comes into question,” says one family law expert.

Factors that affect the emotional stability of a caregiver are of central interest to the court, and a judge has broad latitude to examine whatever he or she thinks necessary if it is brought into question and deemed relevant to custody and a child’s best interests.

That includes, for example, drinking behaviors and alleged drug use, for which a judge can order testing, rehab and professional evaluations. If a former partner alleges sexual promiscuity and/or unhealthy behaviors, a judge can test for communicable diseases. Courts routinely assess flight risk, matters regarding assets and ability to pay, allegations of violence, employment-related issues and many other things.

Says one family law advocate: “The court can order just about anything in your personal life tested and periodically reviewed.”

That is strong impetus for anticipating challenges that might exist and getting things in order before a court date. Custody proceedings can be complex and full of challenges, and an experienced divorce attorney with a full understanding of the scope and variety of issues that can feature concerning custody can help make a material difference in a custody outcome.

Related Resource: “Family court can pull passports, order drug testing and more during custody proceedings” April 7, 2011

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