Going through a divorce when you have children can be difficult. As a parent, issues like custody and visitation rights will likely be among your top concerns in your Georgia divorce. Therefore, before you start the divorce process, it’s important that you have a good understanding of how courts make child custody decisions in Georgia. Below is an overview of child custody in Georgia. For additional information, please contact an experienced Georgia child custody attorney as soon as possible.
How Georgia Courts Make Custody Decisions
Georgia courts are required to make custody decisions that are in children’s best interests. In order to determine what is in a child’s best interests, judges in Georgia child custody cases examine several factors, including:
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child
- The motives of each parent to obtain custody
- Each parent’s schedule
- Each parent’s health (mental, emotional, and physical)
- Each parent’s level of education
- Each parent’s desire to have a relationship with the child
The Four Types of Child Custody in Georgia
There are four types of child custody in Georgia:
- Sole physical custody – When a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives only with that parent.
- Joint physical custody – Joint physical custody allows a child to spend time living with both parents.
- Sole legal custody – With sole legal custody, only one parent has the authority to make decisions for the child, such as medical and educational decisions.
- Joint legal custody – Joint legal custody permits both parents to make decisions for their child.
As long as it is in the best interests of the child, courts generally prefer joint custody, as this ensures that a child will spend time with both parents. Courts also prefer to grant joint legal custody to parents, as this gives both parents the power to make important decisions for their child. Of course, if other factors prohibit such an arrangement, courts will grant sole legal custody to the parent that is best suited to make decisions on behalf of the child. In addition, even if the parents have joint legal custody, it is common for one parent to have final decision-making authority in situations where parents can’t agree on a decision jointly. Sometimes, each parent will have final decision-making authority in different categories of decisions that affect the child. For example, one parent may have the final say in health-related matters while the other may have final decision-making authority regarding the child’s education. Finally, even if one parent has sole physical custody, visitation is almost always permitted unless it presents some sort of danger to the child.
Contact Our Georgia Child Custody Attorney
If you need assistance with child custody in Georgia, it’s imperative that you have an experienced Georgia child custody attorney on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, we understand how difficult divorce can be on children. When you become our client, attorney Amy Carter will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome in your Georgia divorce case while preserving your parental rights and protecting your children’s best interests. Please contact us today for a consultation.