During divorce proceedings, parents can seek custody of their children. There are two types of custody, legal and physical. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make major decisions concerning their child’s upbringing, such as healthcare, education, non-emergency activities, religion and extracurricular activities.
If parents agree on a custody arrangement, they can collaborate to create a parenting plan which the court can approve and make legally binding.
The person with legal custody has the right to make decisions on behalf of the child regarding his or her education, health care, religious upbringing, and other important issues. Parents often include the terms of their legal custody arrangement in a parenting plan that they submit to family court.
When determining legal custody, judges consider several factors including the child’s preference, the stability of each parent’s home life and relationship with the child, any recommendations from a court appointed custodial evaluator or guardian ad litem, and other relevant facts.
Judges may award joint legal custody (which means that both parents share decision-making responsibility) or sole legal custody. The judge may also decide to grant sole physical custody or shared physical and legal custody. In either case, the judge will prepare a legally enforceable parenting plan. Once the children are older than 14, they have the right to choose which parent they want to live with unless that would not be in their best interests.
While Georgia law favors parents sharing custody of their children, judges are free to award physical and legal custody solely to one parent or jointly to both parents in any arrangement they deem best for the child’s welfare. Physical custody involves the actual care and supervision of a child, and it is often referred to as “primary physical custody.” The parent or guardian who has primary physical custody is typically responsible for day-to-day decisions such as healthcare, education, religion and extracurricular activities.
In cases of joint physical and legal custody, both parents share in making major decisions for their child or children. The court may determine that a specific parent should have primary physical custody of the child and that the child lives with each parent on an equal time basis. This can include a schedule of mid-week visits and alternating weekends. The court will also decide where the child will live for holidays and birthdays.
As parents, you want to spend quality time with your children. You may need to create a custody and visitation schedule that ensures this. Our lawyers are ready to help you create a comprehensive schedule. We are also experienced in modifying existing custody orders.
Our attorneys can assist with both joint physical and sole legal custody arrangements. Our goal is to protect your rights while working hard to ensure the best outcome for you and your child.
Often, parents collaborate and come up with a parenting plan together that outlines their desired custody arrangement. A court then reviews this plan and decides if it is in the best interests of your child.
In some cases, however, a parent may contest a custody arrangement. The judge will consider the proposed plans as well as evidence from both parents and the expert testimony of a custody evaluator. If a child’s safety is in question, the court may decide to limit or deny visitation with a noncustodial parent.
As a general rule, the court will award custody to a parent that it feels can best provide the children with essential care and a good quality of life. A judge will also consider the parents’ wishes, particularly when a child is 14 or older. Georgia law provides kids who are that age with the opportunity to decide where they want to live, and the court may allow their choice if it is in their best interests.
A Judge will also take into account a variety of other factors, such as the safety of the child and each parent’s ability to provide a healthy growth environment. It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side who will help you craft a custody schedule that maximizes your time with your kids.
A child Custody Lawyer in Atlanta can help you resolve contested child custody matters in the state of Georgia. We will also assist if you or your spouse experiences significant changes that necessitate a modification to the existing custody arrangement.