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Child custody refers to the legal guardianship involved in a divorce case. In Georgia, there are two forms of custody; legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the child's life decisions. Religious, medical, and educational decisions are made by the legal custodian(s). Legal custody can be granted to one parent, or decisions split between both parents.
Physical custody refers to where the child resides. One parent may have sole physical custody, with the other receiving scheduled visitation rights. Or, both parents may share physical custody, which means the child lives with each parent a portion of the time.
When deciding issues regarding child custody, courts in Georgia will consider the best interests of the child and the environment that will provide the most stability. The courts consider many factors, including:
A child over 14 years of age may wield substantial influence over a court's decision to choose which parent will have primary custody. Remember, the court considers it important for a child to maintain a relationship with both parents. Therefore, visitation rights are still awarded to the parent who is not given primary custody of the child.
We are living in a society where gender stereotypes are slowing fading. There is no reason to believe that courts are more likely to award custody to the mother or the father. It is important to come up with a parenting plan that meets the child's needs and is in the child's best interest.
A court ordered arrangement of the custody and visitation details surrounding the child(ren)s day to day needs, along with a set of guidelines as to both parents rights and responsibilities regarding their child.
A court always maintains jurisdiction to change a custody order. Visitation may be changed as well, however there are certain 2 year limitations that may apply.
Although it is rare, the court, in its discretion, can award joint custody instead of sole custody. There are two types of joint custody:
Typically, the court awards joint legal custody to the primary physical custodian having the tie-breaking authority should the parties disagree on the decision regarding the minor child.
One parent has primary physical custody and the noncustodial parent has the standard visitation of every other weekend, alternating holidays and an extended period in the summer, and pays child support based on the Georgia State Child Support Guidelines.
Depending on what county you are filing for divorce in, those families who have children are required to attend an educational seminar as part of the adjudication process. This is not a marital counseling session, and not intended to get the parties back together. The required education program, entitled "Seminar for Parent of Minor Children," addresses issues specific to "families in transition," which includes parties involved in divorce, separate maintenance, paternity, change of custody, visitation, legitimation and other domestic relations matters involving children.
For additional information about child custody, explore our blog articles:
Whether handling an amicable parenting plan or an emotionally charged child custody dispute, the family law attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor provides all of our clients with caring and supportive legal advocacy. We handle child custody issues including:
Our managing partner, Randy Sabatini is especially well-known and has earned a stellar reputation for child custody cases. In addition, firm founder Mary Stearns-Montgomery has served as a guardian ad litem in Georgia and has extensive experience representing the best interests of children in family law matters.
At Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, we are committed to providing the most effective level of service to each of our valued clients in a caring and compassionate manner. If you or someone you know is facing a child custody dispute, contact us today at (678) 971-3413.