In years gone by, in a custody action, the court would routinely grant physical custody of the minor child to the mother. Don’t you remember the days when everyone believed the child was better off with the mother? However, that is no longer the case.
In todays world, both male and female judges are frequently granting physical custody to the Father. So, let’s take a look at a few real life examples of recent cases in the Superior Courts.
In a recent contested divorce action, the mother had taken the children out of state to visit relatives. She then decided that she no longer wanted to remain in the marriage. Accordingly, when she notified the husband that she wanted out, he filed for divorce. His Complaint for Divorce included a “Standing Order” which prohibited the children from being removed from the jurisdiction of the Court.
Unfortunately for the Wife, she obtained bad advice from her attorney who told her that it was perfectly alright to remove the children from the State (although both her and her attorney had full knowledge of the Standing Order).
When the parties appeared in court, the judge was not happy. The judge ordered the immediate return of the children to the Father. Her attorney squirmed in her seat and dodged the question when the judge asked her, “You didn’t tell your client it was alright to move the children out of State did you?”
In a similar case, the parties were divorced. In the divorce action, the parties had entered into a Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan. The parties had agreed on a visitation schedule and that the minor child would remain in a particular school in the Atlanta area until the child reached a certain age.
The Mother decided to quit her job and relocate to another State. She abruptly withdrew the child from school, packed her bags and relocated. When the change of custody action was filed, the Mother had to face the ire of the judge. The Judge asked her pointedly, “Who told you that you could disobey the order of this Court?” The judge abruptly granted custody of the minor child to the Father.
In other custody actions, Mothers have lost custody as a result of being unstable, moving from one residence to another, dragging the minor child from school to school. Others have lost custody as a result of being involved in domestic violence situations with their current boyfriends.
Inappropriate living arrangements have also led to Mothers losing custody. If the Mother is residing in a two bedroom home, for example, with four (4) adults and three (3) children, such an arrangement may be seen as unhealthy for the minor child. Remember, in custody actions, the determining factor is “What is in the best interest of the minor child.” Another consideration is the Mother residing in an unhealthy, unsafe environment, or being romantically involved with someone with a long criminal record. In a recent case, the Mother was engaged to a man facing armed robbery and manslaughter charges involving the death of a minor child. The Father was granted custody of the minor child. Further examples would include the Mother being employed in the adult entertainment industry or even posting inappropriate photos on Facebook and other social media sites. In today’s world, some people feel the need to post their entire life on social media sites. Accordingly, it’s discoverable and fair game in contested custody actions. Text messages, Insta Grams, Facebook, Twitter pages are all easily discoverable in custody actions. In one custody action, the mother posted on Facebook photos of herself drunk at nightclubs, in mini skirts, with alcoholic drinks in her hand, together with subtext stating that she was “drunk”. She also posted a photo of her busted lip (at the hands of her boyfriend) followed by her statement that “He’s trying to kill me.” Custody of the minor child was granted to the Father. And although many judges today don’t take a keen interest in allegations of adultery, in one case the female judge granted custody to the Father when he, representing himself, testified that his Wife was pregnant by her supervisor. The judge granted the Father everything that he sought in the divorce action, much to the dismay of the Wife and her attorney. The bottom line is, one can no longer assume that custody can’t be lost based on past history. Today, more than ever, judges are not hesitating to change custody if it’s in the best interest of the child to do so,. To discuss issues pertaining to custody, divorce or other legal matters, call for a free consultation to have your questions answered: (404) 551-2428 or toll free at (866) 834-3762. Anthony Overton Van Johnson, Esq. VANJOHNSON LAW FIRM, LLC.