Family courts in Georgia use several factors to determine child custody. In addition, the courts do not have a preference for either sole or joint custody. Primarily, family courts determine child custody in Georgia based on the best interests of the child. Parents who wish to file for child custody should in Georgia first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.
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Best Interests of the Child
Family courts in Georgia use the following factors to determine the best interests of the child:
- The child's wishes: At the age of 14, a child can determine where he/she would like to live. (If the child is 11 to 14, the court will consider the child's wishes.)
- The relationship between the parent and his/her child
- The relationship between the child and his/her siblings
- Each parent's ability to provide for the child, financially
- The safety of the home environment
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- Each parent's employment schedule and flexibility to care for the child
- Each parent's willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the co-parent
- Each parent's involvement in the child's educational, social, and extracurricular activities
- Any evidence of domestic violence or abuse
- Evidence of criminal activities
Parenting Plans in Georgia
Georgia requires parents to submit a parenting plan to the courts for initial child custody determinations and modifications. A parenting plan will include:
- Recognition that a close and continuous relationship will be in the child's best interest
- Recognition that a parent with physical custody of a child will make day-to-day decisions for the child when the child is with the parent
- How holidays, birthdays, and school vacations will be handled by both parents
- Allocation of decision-making to one or both parents with regard to the child's education, health, extra-curricular activities, etc.
Parents who cannot agree on a parenting plan should present a proposed parenting plan to the court. If either parent does not submit a parenting plan, the judge may adopt the plan of the other parent, if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
For more information regarding child custody in Georgia, please refer to the Georgia Domestic Relations statute or speak with a qualified attorney in Georgia.