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What you need to know about the child custody laws in Georgia

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Georgia has specific laws in place for child custody. If you are in the process of a custody issue, understanding the basic laws may help you know your rights and potential outcome for your case.

In custody proceedings, the court’s primary focus is the interest of the children. This is key for how a judge determines the most appropriate solution for a given hearing.

Legal and physical custody

Georgia courts recognize certain legal and physical custody laws. The legal custody determines whether one parent or both parents have the authority to make major decisions for the child’s life. This can include decisions on the education, health or religion of the child. Physical custody laws determine whom the child lives with. The judge may grant legal or physical custody to one parent or both of you.

Joint and sole custody

Joint custody means you both have equal custody of the child. However, if a judge grants one parent sole custody, then the other parent may receive visitation rights.

The parents’ agreement

If you and your ex-spouse have agreed upon a joint custody plan, you should draft a document that demonstrates the proposed daily and holiday schedule to present at a hearing. Providing a joint parenting plan can help the hearing proceedings end satisfactorily.

The judge’s decision

During a child custody hearing, you and your ex-partner can state your case, and the judge may consider these statements when making a final decision on child custody. The judge primarily considers the safety and comfort provided to the child. After the judge decides, you may not ask to have the decision revised unless family circumstances change.

The child’s decision

Under Georgia law, once children reach the age of 14 or older, they may choose the parent they want to live with. At this age, they also have the option of requesting a new custody arrangement every two years.

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