If you are preparing for a divorce or separation and you have children with your soon to be ex-spouse, you may have questions about child custody and visitation. Custody and visitation issues are always extremely sensitive and should be handled with care and with the best interest of the child or children in mind.
When deciding custody in Georgia, the divorcing parties must deal with who will have both both legal and physical custody. The court can award custody in many ways. Some of the most common ways are awards that grant one party sole custody in both instances, awards allow the parties to exercise both types of custody jointly, or awards that grant joint legal custody to the parties and primary physical custody to one party.
In deciding custody, neither parent has more of an inherent right to custody than the other. The judge has a duty to determine “what is for the best interest of the child and what will promote the child’s welfare and happiness.” O.C.G.A. 19-9-3(a)(2). In determining the best interest of the child, the judge reviews a variety of factors. Many of those factors are found at O.C.G.A. 19-9-3.
In making a decision about legal custody, the judge is deciding who has the right and responsibility “for major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.” O.C.G.A. 19-9-6. In many instances, the judge may award joint legal custody, but separate final decision making authority in the areas listed above. In those cases, the parties are charged with conferring with each other before making any decision in the areas of education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training. However, after conferring, if one parent has final decision making authority in any area, he or she may decide how he or she sees fit, even if the other party does not agree.
In making a decision about physical custody, the judge is deciding with whom the child will live primarily. In most instances, the judge will award primary physical custody to one parent and the other parent will visit with the child according to a visitation schedule. In some cases, the parties can share joint physical custody and the child will spend an equal (or near equal) amount of time with both parents.
Custody is a very sensitive issue and must be handled with care. No two cases are alike, so having an attorney with the ability to craft or argue for an order that fits your child’s specific needs is essential. If you are facing a dispute over custody or visitation, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. If you are in need of a great Family Law Attorney, please contact CW Law to ensure that you and your family secure the most favorable outcome possible. Attorney Crystal Wright is experienced and highly knowledgeable in all aspects of divorce, separation, and child custody law. We can be reached by phone at 404.594.2143 or by email at email@example.com