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Child Custody Questions Answered

In a divorce, assets are split. The house, the car, the dog, the photographs, the joint accounts, the debt, everything is divided between the two parties. Unfortunately, if there are children involved in the case, their time must also be split. Child custody is the parent’s right and responsibility to protectively care for or guard his or her children. The article below details some of the nuances involved in acquiring custody and explains the different types of custody.  This article below details the particulars of custody cases under Georgia law, focusing on aspects observed in Cumming Georgia and Forsyth County divorce and family law cases. It is always recommended to have an attorney present when dealing with complex divorce and family law matters such as child custody.

What is legal child custody?

Legal custody of a child is the legal process of deciding which parent will make the major decisions in a child’s life after a divorce. This includes medical, religious, extracurricular, and educational decisions. In a court’s legal custody decision, how a child’s time will be divided between two parents is also decided.

How is child custody determined in Cumming Georgia, Forsyth County cases?

Custody of a child is determined with the goal of providing an environment that seems to be the best option for the child. The deciding court is influenced by factors such as:

  • The child’s school and community record as well as possible health concerns and special educational considerations
  • The child’s emotional ties,  Ties include ties to each parent and ties to other close family members (such as siblings)
  • Each parent’s capacity to give emotional affection
  • Each parent’s knowledge of the child’s needs
  • Each parent’s mental/physical health
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a safe, stable home environment
  • Each parent’s involvement in the child’s academic and social life
  • Each parent’s history of performing parenting responsibilities

Even in very balanced custody rulings (such as joint custody), there must be a designated “final decision maker” parent that has the final say on things such as education, health issues, and personal life.

See O.C.G.A. §§ 19-9-3(a)(3)(A)-(Q)) for additional information.

Types of Custody Orders in Cumming Georgia, Forsyth County

Joint Custody

Joint custody is a legal arrangement where custody is shared equally by both parents; i.e., the child shares its time roughly equally between each parent. Possible arrangements may include a “one-week Dad, one-week Mom” living situation, where the child divides its time on a weekly basis between each living quarters. This type of custody is fairly rare in Georgia, and these situations can be complicated for many parents and the children. For example, such complications include the parents’ willingness to live close together, the parents’ willingness to cooperate, the child’s school and social schedules can be interrupted, and the parents’ employment schedules may have to be compromised.

Primary Custody

Primary custody is a situation where the child spends greater amount of time with one parent than the other. One parent is designated the primary custodian with whom the child spends most of its time, and the other is deemed the secondary custodian. The primary vs. secondary designation is determined through the court hearings and based on the factors previously listed.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is a custody arrangement in which one parent has full custody rights with the child, and the other parent is allowed meager visitation rights. A common misconception of sole custody is that one parent is completely cut from a child’s life. This is not the case; the non-custodial parent is still given some level of visitation right. This arrangement is fairly extreme and is usually only ruled when one parent has exhibited extreme behavior such as drug abuse, domestic violence, or other extreme, harmful conduct. Because Georgia public policy tries to ensure that emotional connections between parent and child stay as strong as possible, sole custody rulings are rare in Georgia.

Split Custody

Split custody is a family arrangement where, if there are multiple children involved in the custody case, one parent is the custodial parent for one or more of the children, and the other is the custodial parent for the other children. Commonly, each child’s time is still split between time with the custodial parent and time with the noncustodial parent, but each child still has one custodial parent with which it will spend the majority of its time.

Visitation Rights

Even in extreme sole custody arrangements, a parent will almost always be allowed visitation time with the child. From joint custody visitation arrangements to sole custody visitation hours, there are numerous standardized visitation time schedules, and each family has to find the one that works the best for their respective living situation. The court will work with each family to consider work schedules, travel time, and child life to create the optimal visitation schedule.

Divorce is a tricky, strenuous decision in one’s life; don’t go through it alone. Your children matter to you, so to find out more about legal custody of a child. Call 770-709-1247 to have a helpful discussion with one of our highly experienced divorce attorneys today. We offer free consultations to qualifying potential clients and offer weekend appointment, so don’t hesitate!

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