Whether you are going through a divorce or dealing with child custody issues outside of wedlock, it is important to understand that both parents have rights in the process. In fact, when it comes to awarding custody, Georgia law does not favor one biological parent over the other (although, as discussed below, unmarried fathers must take some additional steps in order to establish their right to custody).

If you are preparing for a divorce or separation, planning ahead will help give you the best chance to secure the parenting time or guardianship rights you desire. While there are many factors to consider in the process, below are some of the most crucial considerations to keep in mind.

father drawing with sons

When seeking custody in Georgia, it is important to have a clear understanding of the laws and legal principles that apply to your individual circumstances. While the path differs for married and unmarried fathers, contrary to popular belief, the law specifically provides that preference not be given to the mother or the father. Once paternity has been established (when the parents are unmarried paternity must be established through a legal action; in a divorce, paternity is presumed unless successfully challenged by the mother, her husband, or the putative (biological) father), the law focuses on ensuring the best possible living situation for the children involved.

In most circumstances, a non-custodial parent’s visitation or parenting time is unsupervised. The general rule in Georgia is that non-custodial parents have the right to spend time with their children free from supervision, and in the majority of cases, this is considered to be in the best interest of all parties involved.

Whether you are going through the divorce process or your former spouse or partner has already been granted primary custody, it is important to understand your rights as a non-custodial parent. Georgia’s custody laws focus on protecting the best interests of the child, and in most cases this requires the parents to develop a “parenting plan” that allows the child to spend meaningful time with both his or her mother and father.