- by Mary Stearns-Montgomery
Determining custody agreements in Georgia is a complex process during which the judge has multiple variables to consider. In fact, there are seventeen factors listed in the Georgia code that outlines child custody proceedings that help the judge determine the idea living situation for the child. But as the child gets older, a few additional considerations are added, primarily the child’s desired living arrangement.
Custody agreements when the child is over 14 years old
In instances when the child is 14 years of age or older, the child has the right to determine with whom he or she desires to live. Unless the judge determines that this living arrangement is not in the best interest of the child, the child’s wishes will be abided. If the child’s wishes do not coincide with the current custody agreement, a modification will be made to the custody order. These agreements can only be amended once every two years, provided the child’s best interest is not endangered. In other words, children over fourteen may choose their living arrangement but cannot modify it on a whim.
The child is older than 11 but younger than 14
In cases where the child is older than 11 but not yet 14, the judge shall consider the desires of the child, but maintains complete discretion in making the final decision. The judge will also determine how the child’s wishes are to be considered. When the child is in this age range, the judge may allow a guardian to report the child’s wishes on his or her behalf. The pre-teen’s wishes also cannot constitute a modification in the custody arrangement. The judge might, however, issue temporary custody, a sort of trial period, in accordance with the child’s inclination. This temporary custody shall not exceed six months.
Issues of child custody can often be long and arduous, but these troubles can proliferate without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.