What is Georgia’s new equitable caregiver’s law?
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What is Georgia’s new equitable caregiver’s law?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2023 | Child Custody |

Child custody and visitation has historically been limited by blood and adoption. However, Georgia’s new equitable caregiver law is a landmark legislation that recognizes the rights of non-biological parents who have cared for a child. The law, which took effect in July of 2019, allows an adult who has previously cared for the child to request physical and legal custody of the child, even if they are not related by blood or adoption.

Best interests of the child

The law aims to protect the best interests of the child and the bond they have formed with their caregiver. It also provides a legal avenue for grandparents, stepparents, foster parents and other relatives or friends who have acted as parents to a child to seek custody or visitation rights.

Equitable caregiver qualifications

To qualify as an equitable caregiver, the adult must prove that they have fully and completely undertaken a permanent, unequivocal, committed and responsible parental role in the child’s life. They must also show that they have established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child, which is parental in nature. Either the legal parent must consent to this or by operation of law. And, the legal parent must have fostered or supported the formation and establishment of the bonded and dependent relationship between the child and the equitable caregiver. Finally, the adult must prove that the relationship existed for a significant period of time.


The court may adjudicate an individual to be an equitable caregiver if it finds that doing so is in the best interest of the child and that the individual meets the above criteria. The court may also grant an equitable caregiver physical or legal custody of the child, or both, depending on the circumstances. The court may also order child support payments from or to the equitable caregiver.

Parentage vs. caregiver

The equitable caregiver law does not disestablish the parentage of the legal parent or affect their rights and responsibilities. It also does not create a presumption of legitimacy or paternity for the equitable caregiver. The law only applies to cases where there is no existing court order regarding custody or visitation of the child.

The equitable caregiver law is a significant step forward for Georgia families who may not fit the traditional definition of a nuclear family. It acknowledges the reality that many children are raised by adults who are not their biological or adoptive parents, but who love them and provide for them as if they were. The law gives these adults a chance to secure their relationship with their children and protect their welfare.