The most important aspect of any divorce or separation agreement between two parents is inarguably the future of their children. Georgia courts will always focus on the best interests of the child when assigning custody. The court will generally consider the totality of the circumstances when awarding custody of a child to a parent. By working with an experienced and dedicated family lawyer, parents can work to come to arrangements that consider their needs as well as their children’s.
FORMS OF CUSTODY IN ATLANTA
The main factor of any child custody determination is the best interest of the child. For children over the age of 14, the court may take the child’s wishes under consideration when deciding where they will live. Otherwise, the court will usually examine the relationship of the child with each parent as well as each parent’s suitability to raise the child.
According to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3, the court has the ability to grant both legal and physical custody of a child to the parents. Legal custody is the right to make decisions concerning how the child is raised, which typically includes decisions regarding non-emergency healthcare, education, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing.
The other component is physical custody, meaning where the child lives on a daily basis, including during the school year, holidays, and summer break. The court may award one parent primary physical custody during the week while the child has visitation at the other parent’s house on weekends. Other physical custody plans may give one parent sole physical custody while the other only has visitation rights; or may give the parents shared physical custody and have the child divide their time equally between parents.
FACTORS CONSIDERED BY THE COURT
Anytime two parents no longer live under the same roof, they must make plans for the care and custody of their children. It does not matter whether the parents were ever married. In some instances, the parents may come to an agreement as to the legal and physical custody of children together. However, in many cases, the court may have to intervene and make a ruling. Under O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3, the court considers a number of factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child. A dedicated family lawyer will help parents bring these factors to the forefront of any custody hearing by working diligently to press for a custody arrangement that will be best for the child and for both parents.
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The questions of where a child will live and how decisions will be made concerning their future are at the center of separation involving children. While some parents may be able to come to an agreement on custody, most separations require some sort of court intervention to aid in the determination of custody and parenting time. The court will aim to award custody not to the parent who wants it more, but rather according to what is in the best interests of the child. Because of the high stakes involved, it is vital that parents work with a highly experienced family law attorney. Contact us today to discuss your case.