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Legal Information: Georgia


October 29, 2019

What will I need to prove to the judge to establish myself as an equitable caregiver?

You may be able to establish yourself as an equitable caregiver without proving any of the following if:

  • the child’s parent agrees for you to have a parental relationship with the child; or
  • you and the child’s parent have a written agreement that shows that you both intend to share or divide responsibility for the child’s care.3

If the child’s parent does not agree to either of the above, you may be able to establish yourself as an equitable caregiver if you can show by clear and convincing evidence that you have:

  1. fully and completely taken a permanent, absolute, committed, and responsible parental role in the child’s life;
  2. consistently cared for the child;
  3. established a bond with the child where the child depends on you;
  4. established the relationship with the support of the child’s parent, and you and the parent have both understood, acknowledged, accepted, or behaved like you’re the child’s parent;
  5. accepted full and permanent parental responsibilities without any expectation of payment; and
  6. shown that the child will suffer physical or long-term emotional harm without you by proving the factors below and that continuing your relationship with the child is in the child’s best interests.1

The judge will decide whether the child will suffer physical or long-term emotional harm if s/he is not allowed to have a relationship with you after considering the following factors:

  1. who has taken care of the child in the past, and who is now taking care of the child;
  2. the people with whom the child has psychological bonds and the strength of those bonds;
  3. whether each party has been interested in and had contact with the child;
  4. whether the child has any unique medical or psychological needs that a specific person is better able to meet; and
  5. any other relevant factors.2

1 O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.1(d)
2 O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.1(e)
3 O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.1(f)