Many parents wonder who will get child custody in a contested battle. Does the court prefer mothers over fathers? Or do they have equal rights? 

Today’s laws are very different than they were in the past when the “tender years doctrine” was the reigning policy across the nation. Under this principle, it was assumed that children needed to be with their mothers when they were young, during their “tender years.” This often led to mothers initially receiving custody of the children and then continuing with custody so the children’s current living situation would not be disrupted. 

However, today, courts have largely moved away from this doctrine, as they understand that both parents can play a crucial role in their children’s lives. You can learn more about the court’s preference for a mother or father in Georgia child custody cases here and through a confidential consultation with a family law attorney.

Is Georgia a Mother State?

Many people wonder, “Is Georgia a mom state for child custody cases?” No, it is not. Georgia law specifically states that there is no inherent preference for a mother or father in a child custody case. 

There is also no presumed better form of custody, such as a preference for joint custody. Instead, Georgia courts focus on what is in the best interest of the child when making custody decisions. 

Mothers’ Rights in Georgia

A mother’s custody rights in Georgia are largely determined based on her marital status. For married parents, both parents have equal rights to child custody. However, if the mother is unwed, the law gives her sole custody of the child. 

The father cannot ask the court for custody unless he legitimizes the child first. This typically requires proving his paternity to the court. They can do this by filing a court case or filling out an Administrative Legitimation Form with the State Vital Records office. 

Custody Battles: Mother vs. Father 

If parents do not agree to a custody arrangement, one can petition the court for their preferred form of custody. 

There are different types of custody in Georgia, including: 

  • Legal custody or the right to make important decisions regarding the child 
  • Physical custody or the right to have the child live with the parent
  • Sole custody – when one parent has the right 
  • Joint custody – when both parents share the right

The court determines which parent to award custody to based on the best interests of the child. 

The court considers various relevant factors, including:

  • The love, affection, and bond between each parent and the child and their siblings
  • The ability of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance
  • The ability of each parent to continue the child’s rearing and education
  • The child’s needs and each parent’s knowledge of them
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with their basic needs
  • Each parent’s home environment
  • The importance of maintaining the child’s current living situation 
  • Any history of domestic violence related to or that affects the child
  • The stability of each family unit
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health 
  • Each parent’s involvement in the child’s education, social, and extracurricular activities
  • Each parent’s employment schedule
  • The child’s special health and education needs
  • The child’s home, school, and community record and history
  • Each parent’s prior parenting responsibilities 
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Any evidence of family violence, criminal history, or physical, mental, or sexual abuse of a child
  • Any substance abuse by either parent
  • Any recommendation by a court-appointed child custody evaluator 

An experienced lawyer is familiar with these factors and can fight for the outcome you want in your child custody case. 

Contact an Experienced Georgia Child Custody Lawyer For Help

If you are considering pursuing a child custody case in Georgia, it is important to work with an experienced child custody lawyer who knows how the court evaluates various factors and can prove what you are asking for is in the child’s best interests. Contact our Lawrenceville family law attorneys at Crystal Wright Law today for a confidential consultation at (404) 594-2143. You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.