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Custody, determining how to settle the protective care of any children, is a procedure marked with multiple court hearings in Georgia. Custody can be divided into two categories. The first is sole custody, which means one parent, or legal guardian, is completely responsible for the child’s overall wellbeing, including health and education. The second is joint custody, which fairly splits the same rights and privileges of the one parent above between two individuals. Joint legal custody means both have equal say in making decisions for the child, whereas joint physical custody means both can spend an equal amount of time and contact with the child. However, even in joint custody the court assigns one person to have the final say. While the parents’ and child’s say are both strongly considered, the court ultimately holds the authority to make the closing decision based on what they believe is in the child’s best interest.

Through different legal proceedings child custody cases can take various approaches. In divorce cases, if both are capable parents yet cannot agree, the court will employ a “best interest” standard that takes into consideration each parents’ work schedules, home lifestyles, and personal habits. In Paternity and Legitimation cases, the mother has sole custody of the minor child until the father legitimates the child. Then they have equal custodial rights. Finally, in the case when the parent holding custody dies or if neither parents are capable to have custody, the court then considers a limited selection of relatives instead.

To complete the legal procedure, child custody laws in Georgia request parents to submit a parenting plan for any custody case. These plans typically expound upon an outline of goals with further detail on how the parents will figure out transportation, living arrangements, education, health care, and child support payments for the child. However, child custody decisions are by no means absolute. The court allows changes that can result from significant circumstances that could affect the child’s welfare. Also, when a child is eleven the court considers expressed preferences, but when a child is fourteen Georgia law allows the child to select a preference for one guardian over the other.

We know that divorce is painful enough, and you want what’s best for your and your children.

In Georgia, child custody is granted based on the best interests of the child. Custody can be joint or sole, and the court will consider factors pertaining to the child’s interests in terms of well-being, health, educational and religious needs, and, after their 14th birthday, their preferences. Physical custody pertains to living arrangements and the rights/responsibilities associated with child care, while legal custody pertains to responsibilities associated with raising a child and includes questions of religious upbringing, school choice, and medical care.

The most common solutions the court uses in deciding these types of custody are:

– Sole custody: one parent has the exclusive, primary right to have the child live with him or her. This parent is called the custodial parent and the other is called the non-custodial parent. The most common type of sole custody is sole physical custody with joint legal custody. (Sole physical and legal custody usually only occurs when there is a history of abuse in the family.)
– Joint custody: parents usually share responsibility for decision making and/or physical custody of the children.
– Split custody: each parent takes custody over different children.
– Nesting: children remain in pre-divorce home, and parents rotate residence in home.
– Shared parenting: a new concept which uses cooperative parenting as a framework and no pre-set formula for how parents will divide responsibilities/expenses is set although both parties share legal and physical custody and jointly budget for the expenses.

Here are some of the factors that courts will take into consideration when deciding custody:

– Suitability of each parent as a custodian
– Psychological, emotional and developmental needs of the child
– The ability of the parents to communicate with each other
– The prior and continuing care that the parents have given the child
– Parental support for the other parent’s relationship with the child
– The wishes of the child (taking into account the child’s age and maturity)
– The child’s safety
– The geographic proximity of the parents
– Custodial agreements of the parents
– Whether there is a history of domestic abuse

If you do not receive primary custody of your children, you will be granted visitation rights. Depending on the factors listed above as they pertain to your specific case as well the parenting plan you and your spouse will devise, it will be decided how much and what nature of time you will be given. While extreme cases will warrant minimal, supervised visitation, others will grant close to equal parenting time.

Again, the court will always decide this based on what is best for your kids. The parent who does not have primary physical custody is usually the one who pays child support and Georgia calculates child support through a worksheet you will complete.

Our Atlanta Georgia uncontested divorce lawyers and attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Marietta, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Gainseville, Midtown Atlanta, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Kennesaw, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, and Smyrna.

Our Atlanta Georgia uncontested divorce attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette and Clayton.

Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s Atlanta Georgia lawyers practice in the areas of Divorce, Family Law, Immigration, Bankruptcy and Business Law. We have two convenient offices located at:

Alpharetta Georgia Office
5755 North Point Parkway
Suite 52
Alpharetta, GA 30022

Atlanta Georgia Office
659 Auburn Avenue Northeast
Suite 117
Atlanta, GA 30312

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