One of the most hotly contested issues during a divorce can be custody of the children. Ideally, parents can come to a mutual agreement about child custody and visitation issues. When that doesn't happen, the court will decide custody and visitation matters for the parents. In Georgia, there are two types of child custody – physical and legal.
If a parent has physical custody, the child lives with the parent. Parents can share physical custody, also sometimes called joint custody, or one parent may have sole physical custody. When parents have joint custody, often one parent will still have primary physical custody.
The parent with legal custody can make all major medical, educational, and religious decisions on behalf of the child. In Georgia, the courts may award joint legal custody, and then both parents will share significant life decisions for the child. If a court awards joint physical and legal custody to the parents, one parent will sometimes have primary physical custody, usually the parent with more custody time.
Best Interests of the Child
Georgia courts decide custody and visitation issues by determining the “best interests of the child.” To decide the child's best interests, the court will look at many issues that impact the health and well-being of a child, including:
- Each parent's physical and mental health,
- The stability of each parent,
- Each parent's ability to care for the child, including their home environment,
- Any history of spousal or child abuse,
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse,
- Each parent's involvement in the child's education, activities, and community life,
- Each parent's emotional ties to the child,
- The relationship a child has to any siblings in each home, and
- Each parent's willingness to nurture a relationship with the other parent.
For a child who is 11 or older, the court may also consider their wishes concerning custody.
Our Experienced Family Law Attorneys Can Help
At The Kirk Law Firm, P.C., we fully believe that if both parties are involved in resolving family law issues, they're less likely to feel like the arrangement is somehow unfair or arbitrary. That's why we help guide you through the process of determining the best custody and visitation arrangement for your family. But if an agreement isn't possible, we're fully prepared to fight for your parental rights in court. Contact The Kirk Law Firm, P.C., at 678-208-3366 or online to schedule a confidential consultation.