Crystal Wright | January 30, 2023 | Child Custody
The primary concern in a Georgia child custody case is the best interest of the child. The judge considers all factors that impact the child’s best interest. In the end, the final decision is what the judge believes will benefit the child.
Joint custody is often preferred because it allows parents to be active in their children’s lives. It enables the parents to make decisions regarding their children’s healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and activities. It also allows parents the ability to spend time with their children.
However, the courts grant sole custody when the judge believes granting joint custody would not be in the child’s best interest. Typically, sole legal custody and physical custody are granted when a parent is unfit. A parent is unfit when they cannot care for a child, or the parent’s conduct puts the child in danger or harms the child’s well-being.
Factors the Court Considers in Child Custody Cases in Lawrenceville, GA
When parents argue about child custody, a judge must make the final decision. The judge uses all sources and tools to aid in that decision. For example, the court can order drug testing, psychological evaluations, and other investigations when necessary.
The Georgia Code §19-9-3 states there is no presumption in favor of a mother or a father in child custody cases. Instead, the judge makes the decision based on all circumstances of the case.
Five of the most important factors that judges consider in child custody cases include:
The Child’s Needs
A child might have special needs or specific needs. If so, one parent might be more suited to meet those needs.
For example, a child with a disability might require substantial personal care. The parent who does not work or works from home might receive primary physical custody because they can be home with the child.
A Parent’s Willingness To Accept Custody
Some parents do not want primary custody of their children. For example, they might work away from home or recognize they are not sufficient caregivers for their children. If so, a parent might willingly concede to the other parent having sole or primary child custody.
The Stability of the Home Environment
If a parent has moved numerous times in the past few years, a judge might favor the other parent as the primary custodial parent. Children need stability to feel safe and thrive. The home environment must be safe and stable for the child’s best interest.
The Relationship Between the Child and Each Parent
In some cases, the relationship between the child and parent could impact custody decisions. For example, if a child is unhappy with one parent and there is evidence that being with that parent negatively impacts the child’s well-being, a judge might consider that factor. Psychological evaluations can raise red flags regarding a child’s relationship with a parent.
Evidence of Domestic Violence or Child Abuse
Judges consider evidence and allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse very seriously. If there is sufficient evidence of abuse or violence in the home, the judge could grant sole custody to the other parent.
Unfortunately, some parents raise false allegations of abuse to influence child custody decisions. If your ex-partner claims you are guilty of harming your child, you need to talk with a Lawrenceville child custody lawyer immediately.
Other Factors That Can Affect Child Custody Decisions in Georgia
A judge can consider any factor they deem applicable to a custody case.
Other factors judges consider when making child custody decisions include, but are not limited to:
- The ability of the parents to communicate with each other regarding the needs and best interests of their children
- The relationship between children and their siblings, step-siblings, and other family members in the home
- The continuity of a child’s life and how long they have lived in a specific home
- The parent’s age, mental health, and physical condition
- Each parent’s involvement in the child’s life to date, including education, extra-curricular activities, and social development
- A parent’s work schedule, flexibility, and limitations
- The willingness of each parent to foster a close relationship between their child and the other parent
- Recommendations from court-appointed child custody evaluators
When parents agree to a child custody arrangement and parenting plan, it typically results in a better outcome for all parties. Parents understand their children much better than a judge who only reviews evidence before the court. If parents work together, the judge can approve a proposed child custody agreement if the judge agrees it is in the child’s best interest.
The best way to protect yourself and your child is to work with an experienced Lawrenceville child custody attorney. Even if you and your child’s other parent agree now, things could change when you are in court. You do not want to be caught off guard if your ex-partner decides to challenge custody.
Contact the Child Custody Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.