How Custody Is Determined in a Divorce in Georgia

You’ve done it. You’ve decided that divorce is the right thing, and you’re getting ready to file. Your biggest worry is your kids. Who’ll get custody?

When a couple with kids decides to divorce, one of the most significant concerns is the custody of the children. In Georgia, custody is determined based on the child’s best interests. You and your soon-to-be ex may be able to agree on your own about who has custody and when. However, if the parents can’t agree, the court can make the determination about who’ll get the kids.

How Does the Court Decide Who Gets the Kids?

In Georgia, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child unless there is evidence to the contrary. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal time-sharing but rather that both parents will share in the decision-making responsibilities for the child. However, if one parent is found to be unfit or unable to care for the child, the court may award sole custody to the other parent.

When making a custody determination, the following factors will be evaluated:

  • The child’s age and developmental needs – When making a custody determination, the court will consider the child’s developmental stage and age. Younger children may require more stability and predictability, while older children may be given more input into the custody decision.
  • The relationship between the child and each parent – The court will consider the quality and nature of the relationship the child has with each parent. The court will evaluate each parent’s ability to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs – Whether each parent can adequately provide for the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and medical care, will be taken into account. Other factors will also be included in the determination, such as the child’s overall needs and whether each parent can provide a stable home environment and foster a positive relationship with the child.
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment – The stability of each parent’s home environment will be evaluated, including whether the parent has a stable job, adequate housing, and a safe and secure living environment.
  • Each parent’s involvement in the child’s life – The court will examine how active each parent is in the child’s life, including whether the parent has been engaged in the child’s upbringing and has provided emotional and financial support.
  • Each parent’s willingness to encourage and foster a relationship between the child and the other parent – Each parent’s willingness to promote a positive relationship between the child and the other parent is important and will be factored into the decision.
  • Any history of family violence or substance abuse – If there’s a history of substance abuse or violence in the family, those items will weigh heavily in the court’s custody determination. If a parent has a history of family violence or substance abuse, the court may order supervised visitation for that parent or limit the parent’s custody and visitation rights.
  • The child’s preference – If the child is old enough and mature enough to express a preference, the child’s wishes could factor into the custody determination. However, the court will consider the child’s preference in light of the other factors and if it is in the child’s best interests.

Additionally, the court may also order a custody evaluation, which is an in-depth assessment of the child’s and parents’ psychological, emotional, and social functioning. The custody evaluator will make recommendations to the court based on their assessment.

What Types of Custody Are There?

In Georgia, there are different types of custody arrangements the court could award, including:

  • Sole custody – One parent has primary physical and legal custody of the child, and the other parent may have limited visitation rights.
  • Joint legal custody – Both parents share decision-making responsibilities for the child, but the child may live primarily with one parent.
  • Joint physical custody – The child lives with each parent for equal or nearly equal amounts of time.
  • Split custody – If there are multiple children involved, the court may award each parent custody of one or more of the children.

Call Kessler & Solomiany, LLC Today

When you’re divorcing, and child custody is one of the issues, don’t try to manage your divorce on your own. You need a skilled Atlanta child custody attorney on your side to protect your rights and work to pursue your preferred result. Call Kessler & Solomiany, LLC today at (404) 688-8810 for a confidential consultation about how we can help you pursue custody of your children.