My sister is married and maintains a relationship with my daughter.My sister lives about 4hrs. away in Tennessee.
Since at this time the "father" is not legitimated, he has no custody rights. But you sister lives in TN, so its out of state. If something were to happen tonight (as an example- let's hope not!), there would be a time when DFCS takes custody of your child until things are cleared up.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get a will, come up with a probate plan, and set forth your desires. Then hope that you never have to carry out the will. Call if you wish to consult.
You can contact me at my office at 770-744-4211 or by email through this website. The questioner and any reader do not have an attorney-client relationship formed by our communications on this website. Advice given by me on this website is general advice based on partial information. You should not rely on any advice given without first hiring a lawyer in the area where the case is pending, and providing that lawyer with full information.
Your concern relates more to Probate/Estate Planning than it does custody (since you're attempting to ensure custody only after you're no longer here to maintain it). As such, you need to contact an Estate Planning attorney for assistance in setting up custody contingencies. The wrinkle in your case is whether your provisions would need to adhere to Georgia law (where your child currently resides) or those of Tennessee (where your sister lives). However, a local Estate Planning attorney would be able to answer that question as well.
I have changed the practice area of your question. Hopefully this will elicit more useful answers to your question.
The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.
This answer is not intended to provide you with specific legal advice regarding your situation, or to create any attorney-client relationship.
Whether you and your child's father were married is not really relevant, if he has been declared as the legal father and not either relinquished his parental rights or had them terminated, he would automatically receive custody of the child in the event of your death. This is true even if you have a Will in place. However, having a properly-drawn Will in place is still essential - you need one to help ensure that, if the child's father does not survive, or if he is unable or unwilling to take custody, your wishes are respected. If a child's parent who is a Georgia domiciliary dies, if the child's other parent is also deceased or has no parental rights, and the deceased parent's valid Will appoints a guardian for a surviving minor child, then the parent's Will generally controls the appointment of the guardian, assuming the appointed guardian is willing to serve.
If the child's father does not have legal parental rights or he is deceased, or he is likely to be unable or unwilling to take custody if something happens to you and you are still living but unable to care for your daughter, then you may also want to have a Designation of Standby Guardian in place, in addition to a Will. This document can also be very helpful for a single parent. You should consult an experienced estate planning attorney for help with these concerns.
My colleagues have provided you with excellent guidance. I just want to add that even if you and your child's father never married, it is important to know whether or not he has legitimated the child to clearly understand what his rights are, if any. An attorney can help you sort through all of this. Establishing a Will, which outlines who you desire to be your child's guardian in the event something happens to you, is of the utmost importance in this case. If not, the state will dictate and since your sister does not live in the state of Georgia, the process could be drawn out, possibly leaving your daughter in the state's custody until your sister can be appointed (if she can be appointed). The best way to avoid all of this is to have your wishes documented in a properly drafted and executed Will, and then let your family members know that it exists and where to find it.
The above answer is for informational purposes only, does not represent legal advice, and in no way establishes an attorney-client relationship. This attorney is licensed in the state of Georgia. You should always consult with an attorney who is licensed in your state for state specific advice tied directly to your specific facts. All responses on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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