Custody & Visitation

Child Custody & Visitation

The goal of child custody and visitation arrangements in Georgia divorces are determined with the best interests of the child as the guiding principle. The court aims to ensure that the child maintains a stable and healthy relationship with both parents, even after the marriage has ended.

Information on this page is a general overview. The circumstances of any individual divorce will strongly influence the final outcome. To get a better idea of potential outcomes in your divorce, you should consult with one of our divorce lawyers.

Types of Child Custody in Georgia

  • Legal Custody refers to the authority to make decisions about the child's upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious matters. Georgia favors joint legal custody, where both parents share decision-making responsibilities for the child. Sole legal custody is a situation where one parent has decision-making authority for the minor child(ren).
  • Physical Custody refers to where the child primarily resides. Joint physical custody, where the child spends substantial time with both parents, may also be considered if it's in the child's best interests. Sole physical custody is a situation where one parent has decision-making authority for the minor child(ren), and the child(ren) spend almost all of their time with the custodial parent.

Decisions by Minor Child on Custodial Parent

Regarding which parent a child prefers to be the custodial parent, the court will consider the desires of a minor child, between the ages of 11 and 14 years old. A child who is 14 years old or older may choose which parent with whom they want to reside. The court will accept the child’s choice unless the judge decides that it clearly is not in the child’s best interest to be with that parent.

When a child does not want to spend equal time with each parent the final custodial arrangement must be shown to be in the child’s best interests.

Temporary Custody in Georgia

Temporary custody orders provide stability for minor children during the divorce process. Strategically, temporary custody orders can strongly influence final custody arrangements, especially if the custodial parent has demonstrated their ability to manage things very well.

Factors That Influence Custody Decisions

Family courts consider various factors to determine the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. These factors may include the emotional bonds between the child and each parent, each parent's ability to provide a stable environment, the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community, and the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.

The courts in Georgia focus on the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. In some situations, one parent (sometimes both) has lifestyle issues that the court may find problematic. Common issues are chronic substance abuse, a history of physical abuse, etc. This can affect decisions on custody as well as visitation.

If your spouse has significant parenting deficiencies you should gather evidence that supports your claim for full custody. This may include records of unhealthy living conditions, poor school attendance, history of abuse or neglect.

Visitation (Parenting Time)

The non-custodial parent is typically awarded visitation rights to ensure an ongoing relationship with the child. Visitation schedules can vary and may include weekends, holidays, school breaks, and other specified times.

Ideally, parents can work together for a certain amount of flexibility in scheduling. Cooperation by parents usually means less stress placed on children.

Parenting Plans

In Georgia, divorcing parents are required to submit a parenting plan outlining custody and visitation arrangements. The parenting plan should address legal and physical custody, as well as visitation schedules and other important considerations.

Modification of Custody Orders

Custody orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification. The court will consider whether the modification is in the best interests of the child. In Georgia, a person is allowed to file a petition for modification only once every two years.

Enforcement of Custody Orders

Custody orders are legally binding, and failure to comply may result in enforcement actions. Law enforcement and the courts can intervene if one parent is preventing the other from exercising their court-ordered custody or visitation rights.

Grandparent Visitation

In certain circumstances, grandparents may hire a lawyer to formally assure visitation rights with their grandchildren.

It's crucial for parents going through a divorce in Georgia to work with their attorneys to develop a comprehensive Parenting Plan that reflects the child's best interests. Our divorce lawyers can provide guidance on the specific requirements and considerations of child custody and visitation in Georgia.

Get the legal help you need. Contact an experienced divorce lawyer. Call 706-253-3060 or contact us online.