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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: Can I Have My Daughter’s Mother Prosecuted for Child Abuse?

Question: I’m a Georgia father who has full custody of his  five-year-old daughter but her mother has visitation rights. I have long suspected my ex-wife was abusing our daughter during visits and that was confirmed after this weekend’s visit to her mother when my daughter came home distraught, with bruises on her arms and legs, telling me her mother had beaten her several times for spilling juice on the floor just once and that she didn’t want to be left with her mommy anymore. Can I have my daughter’s mother prosecuted for child abuse and limit or prevent further visits?

Answer: Yes. Under O.C.G.A. 19-15-3(A), child abuse is defined as, “Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker thereof by other than accidental means….” The law differentiates spanking from abuse in that, under that Code Section, “physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child.” If the child’s body shows evidence of physical injury, like the bruises you describe, under Georgia law, that is considered child abuse and a parent who commits child abuse can be arrested and prosecuted.

In order for the daughter’s mother to face prosecution for suspected abuse, you must first contact law enforcement in your jurisdiction, who are considered “abuse investigators” under the law, and make a verbal and written report to them. They will talk to the child, examine the child and document any physical injuries. And, if they determine that the child shows evidence of having been physically abused and the mother is the likely culprit, they will coordinate the questioning and, potentially, the arrest and prosecution of the child’s mother in her jurisdiction.

More than likely, they also will contact the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) about the alleged abuse. The Agency will conduct its own investigation to determine if it is in the best interest of the daughter to spend unsupervised visitation time with her mother. However, while DFCS can suspend visits to the mother, legal modification of a visitation order will have to be made in court by a judge and can be done based on police reports and DFCS’ investigation.

If you have questions about alleged child abuse, child visitation order modification or any other family law matter, please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at (404) 287-2393 for a full and thorough legal consultation. Visit our website to learn about our attorneys.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated.

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit–Filing An Emergency Motion for Legitimation in Georgia

Question:  I want to get custody rights for my 3-year-old son but I have not filed for legitimation. My son’s mother is threatening to move to Jackson, Mississippi. Can I do anything to stop this move from happening?

Answer:  Yes. In Georgia, under O.G.C.A. 19-1-1(a), the non-custodial parent can file for legitimation in the county where the child resides. In this case, an Emergency Motion for Legitimation would be the best option to exercise because time is of the essence in getting the case before a superior court judge or judicial officer.

In most jurisdictions, the emergency motion would mandate that the court issue a standing order on both parents. This will prevent the custodial parent from leaving the State of Georgia until the issues of legitimation and child custody have been resolved by a superior court judge or judicial officer.

 

Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if you have any questions about the legitimation process, child custody or other family law matters in Georgia.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated.

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit–Teen Charged Under the Designated Felony Act

Question: My teenager was arrested for aggravated battery and his lawyer keeps telling me that the State is charging him under the Designated Felony Act. What does that mean?

Answer: The Designated Felony Act (DFA) under Georgia State Code, Section O.C.G.A. 15-11-63, is the children between the ages of 13-17 may be charged with if they have committed a second offense for such charges of arson, kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, arson in the second degree, robbery, armed robbery not involving a firearm, attempted murder or attempted kidnapping.

DFA refers to the type of custody the child will be restricted to in the event that they admit to the charges or if they are convicted of the offense. A child facing a DFA will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 12 months in restrictive custody and faces a maximum of 60 months.

The term “restrictive custody” means that the child is monitored under intense supervision. The child will not be allowed to have any outside visitors for the first 6 months of that restrictive custody absent any emergency or medical needs.

Therefore, a child being pursued under the DFA statute is facing serious time in custody and should engage an attorney to defend them.

Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if your child needs legal representation for an offense under the Designated Felony Act or if you just have more questions about the DFA.

 

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated.

 

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