Updated: Mar 7, 2022
by Christina L. Scott, J.D.
Georgia O.C.G.A. 19-7-3.1, also known as the Equitable Caregiver Act, grants legal recognition to an adult who is not a biological parent or grandparent of a child, but plays a fundamental role as a provider and caregiver in a child's life. This law represents a huge step in Georgia toward the recognition of non-traditional families.
The statute, which was signed into law in July 2019, gives Georgia judges more flexibility in deciding the best interest of the child in custody cases. The law provides that a judge cannot remove a child from a nonparental custody environment simply because that person is not the biological parent. Stepparents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, same-sex partners, and other adults who have an existing relationship with the child and have assumed the role of primary caregiver, can now petition the courts for custody or visitation rights.
Mediation can be very helpful in these types of cases because of the flexibility and creativity that mediation allows. Just like other types of family law cases, mediation is a great place to hash out the details and nuances for any custody or visitation arrangements. The Courts are generally not creative and often like to apply a cookie-cutter approach to most cases. This approach does not work for everyone and generally ends up with one or both parties filing for a modification quicker than expected. Consider professional mediation for equitable caregiver cases to ensure that your clients have a greater voice in the crafting of any agreement concerning a minor child.