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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Can Georgia agencies seek child custody in absence of abuse?

Parents in Georgia may be concerned to learn that the Supreme Court of another state has ruled that, even when there is no evidence of abuse, government agencies can ask for child custody in that state. The state does have to prove, for a behaviourally challenged child, that the parent cannot capably care for the child and the child would be best cared for by the state. There was a particular case from which this ruling was granted. Child custody was given to the state when the mother claimed she could no longer care for her daughters.

The mother in question was divorced and had twin daughters who were, at the time the case began, nine years old. They were both psychologically and developmentally disabled and the mother felt she could no longer take care of them. She asked the state’s welfare agency for help in getting residential care for the girls. The court ruled that the state would get custody of the girls. 

Ultimately, the girls received the care they needed. The mother regained custody but only of one daughter. The girl’s father received custody of the other daughter. A representative from the state’s parent advocacy group stated that, had the mother asked for voluntary help as opposed to permanent help from the division, she would not have lost custody of the second daughter.

Child custody laws dealing with the state can be complicated. As this particular ruling was in another state, any Georgia parents who believe this situation may have some bearing on their own circumstances should conduct their own research into the Georgia Supreme Court’s stance on child custody involving the state. The key for all involved is to keep in mind what is best for the child.

Source:, “N.J. Supreme Court clarifies custody position,” Jim Walsh, June 16, 2013