Child custody can be an emotionally charged issue during a divorce. Both parents believe they know what is best for their child. In some cases, parents believe the other parent is unfit for custody.

Working with a Lawrenceville child custody lawyer is the best way to protect your legal rights and your children’s best interest. Your attorney will discuss the types of child custody in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and the best way to achieve the outcome you desire. 

Georgia Has Two Different Types of Child Custody

There are two types of child custody in Georgia. Parents can have legal custody or physical custody of their children. Each type of custody gives parents different rights.

Physical Custody of Children in Georgia

Physical custody refers to the parent controlling the child’s day-to-day activities. It refers to the time a child spends with a parent. 

In most cases, the courts prefer parents to work out a physical custody arrangement allowing a child to spend ample time with each parent. The courts do not make a presumption for the amount of time a parent should spend with a child. Parenting plans can include a flexible time-sharing schedule if that is what the children and the parents need and is in the best interest of the children. 

Even if a court grants a parent sole physical custody, the parent without physical custody can have visitation rights. A parenting plan must include a time-sharing schedule that outlines the time each parent spends with the child. A court could deny visitation or order supervised visitation if the court finds doing so is in the child’s best interest. 

The parent who spends more time with the child is considered the custodial parent. Custodial parents do not automatically have sole physical custody. Instead, it refers to the parent the child lives with most of the time. 

Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions for your child. Physical and legal custody are two different issues. Therefore, a court could order sole legal custody, even if it orders joint physical custody.

The decisions a parent makes for their children can profoundly impact the child’s future and overall well-being. When you have legal custody of your child, you can make decisions for your child that include issues related to:

  • Education 
  • Healthcare
  • Caregiving
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Discipline
  • Religious upbringing

When a parent has sole legal custody, they can make decisions for their children without any input from the other parent. Joint custody gives both parents the right to make significant decisions for their children. Parents should consult each other about major decisions when they share legal custody.

Georgia law requires every parenting plan to address who will have the final decision-making authority if the parents disagree. It is important to have this clause as parents might disagree about some decisions throughout the child’s upbringing.

How Do Courts Determine Which Type of Custody To Grant Each Parent?

Generally, courts favor shared or joint custody because children benefit from having both parents in their lives. However, evidence of parental unfitness can result in sole custody.

The primary concern in child custody cases is what is in the child’s best interest. The relevant Georgia child custody statute lists 17 factors that judges consider when deciding custody cases. Those factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The disposition and capacity of the parents to provide guidance, affection, and love for their child
  • The emotional ties, love, affection, and bonding between the child and each parent
  • The disposition and ability of each parent to provide for the day-to-day needs of their child
  • The importance of providing continuity for the child
  • The involvement or lack of involvement of each parent in their child’s social, educational, and extra-curricular activities
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to promote and facilitate a continuing and close relationship between their child and the other parent

Judges can consider any factor they deem relevant to deciding what is in the best interest of a child in a custody case. 

The law provides that once a child reaches 14 years old, the court can consider the child’s desire with which parent to live. The desire is presumptive unless the court finds the parent to be unfit or not in the child’s best interest. When a child is between 11 and 14 years old, the judge can consider a child’s desires and educational needs when determining custody. 

An Experienced Lawrenceville Child Custody Lawyer Can Help

If you have questions about child custody issues, seek legal advice from a Lawrenceville custody attorney. The sooner you seek legal advice, the sooner you can begin building a strategy for your custody case. 

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.