What to Know About Child Custody in Atlanta

If you are in the process of negotiating a divorce or separation, determining how care over a child will be allocated is one of the most important steps.

Therefore, it is important to understand certain elements of child custody in Atlanta and how to proceed. A knowledgeable lawyer could help to explain the state-specific laws regarding custody, as well as guide you through each step of the negotiation process.

What to Consider When Handling a Child Custody Case

When a parent is handling the child custody component of their divorce, the best interests of the children should always be the driving factor. Ideally, the parents should determine the family dynamic after the divorce and, as a result, what will create the most stable environment regarding the child’s routine. By doing so, parents could work to ensure there is minimal disruption in the child’s life going forward.

The bedrock of the child custody law in Georgia is outlined under O.C.G.A § 19-9-3, known as Establishment and Review of Child Custody and Visitation. Essentially, it stipulates that the judge determines custody and, when doing so, should consider the best interests of the child. It also provides the factors that should be considered during this determination with regards to how custody should be apportioned in a case.

Furthermore, it outlines certain events that might occur after a determination of custody that is available to seek a modification of order—such as a child of a certain age electing to live with a parent. Furthermore, a parent may attempt to modify the parent time after a divorce. Usually, this is allowed every two years after the last prior determination on a parent’s petition to seek a change.

The Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody

Legal custody involves two things. The first is access to a child’s records—such as medical, school, extracurricular, and religious, as well as the ability to communicate with third parties about the child. The second is having one parent designated as a final decision-maker on four major areas identified by the legislature, including:

  • Non-emergency healthcare
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Religious upbringing

Physical custody, on the other hand, is the parenting schedule that determines when the children will be with either parent. In Georgia, there is regular parenting time—which is mostly during the school year, but sometimes during the summer months—as well as a holiday and break schedule. For example, some parents might alter the schedule during the summer, so that they might be able to have some time off to travel with their child.

Additionally, there are two subtypes of physical custody: joint custody and sole custody. When one parent is the sole custodian of the child, the other parent does not have any custody rights. However, that does not mean they do not have rights to visitation. Instead, the parent without custody cannot make any decisions about their child’s future or access documents related to them.

How a Lawyer Could Explain What to Know About Child Custody in Atlanta

Because of the nuances of the divorce process in Georgia, it is vital for both spouses to know about important information regarding child custody in Atlanta. However, navigating the negotiation process alone is often stressful and overwhelming, especially as a person handles the parts of a divorce that are potentially emotional or contentious.

If you are in the process of negotiating a divorce, an experienced lawyer could help. By guiding you through each step, you could rest assured that a valuable legal ally is by your side. Call today to discuss your legal options.