Atlanta Child Custody

Child CustodyChild custody issues are often the most contentious part of a divorce. If the parents are unable to agree on custody, the court will make those decisions for them. This is less than desirable for many divorcing couples. To avoid this, parents must come to an agreement regarding child custody.

When going through a child custody issue, it is important to have an experienced Atlanta child custody lawyer on your side. Your lawyer will protect your parenting rights at every turn and make sure you don’t lose valuable time with your children.

Child Custody in Georgia

Georgia recognizes both physical and legal custody. Legal custody centers around the important decisions made for the child—educational, religious, and health decisions fall under this category. If the parents are able to communicate well with one another, joint legal custody might be awarded, meaning the parents would be required to discuss these issues prior to making decisions. Otherwise, sole legal custody could be awarded, allowing one parent to make those decisions.

Physical custody refers to where the child will live. If the child will primarily live with one parent, that parent will have primary physical custody, while the other parent has visitation rights.

Parents may also have joint custody, where each parent spends roughly the same amount of time with the child. Some parents accomplish this by having the child live with one parent from Monday-Thursday, and the other from Friday-Sunday, but there are many different ways to exercise joint custody. Joint custody generally works better when the parents get along fairly well and live close enough to one another to make the logistics work.

How is Child Custody Determined in Atlanta?

Georgia—like all states—determines custody based on the best interests of the child. There are a number of factors used to determine what type of custody arrangement will best serve the needs of the child. These factors include:

  • The physical and mental health of each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to properly care for and nurture the child
  • The level of involvement of each parent with the child’s extra-curricular and educational activities
  • Current relationships between the child and siblings, half-siblings, or step siblings in either parent’s home
  • The home environment of each parent
  • Each parent’s level of emotional ties to the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with the necessities of life—medical care, food, and clothing
  • How familiar each parent is with the child’s educational and health needs
  • How willing each parent is to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The stability of each parent
  • Whether there is a criminal history, a history of domestic abuse, or a history of drug or alcohol abuse by either parent

Georgia Parenting Plans

Divorcing parents must submit a parenting plan to the court when custody is at issue. Either a joint parenting plan must be submitted, or a separate parenting plan that details how the child’s time will be divided between the parents. A parenting plan must clearly and concisely set forth each parent’s access to the child as well as:

  • How and where pickups and drop-offs will be handled
  • Where the child will spend holidays and vacations
  • How school activities will be handled
  • What will happen in the event that a change must be made
  • How any parental disagreements will be dealt with

The proposed parenting plans will be used by the judge when determining the best interests of the child. Georgia law allows children over the age of 11 to state a preference as to which parent they want to live with, however, the child’s wishes will only be weighed with other factors when determining custody.

If you are facing a custody issue, it is imperative that you have a strong, experienced Atlanta family law attorney by your side.