Child Custody in Duluth, Georgia

In Georgia, the divorce rate is higher than the national US average. Only 10.8% of all US adults identify as divorced. Meanwhile, 11.2% of Georgia adults are divorced, and over 2% are separated or undergoing a separation.

If you are getting a divorce in Duluth, Georgia, you may wonder what to expect. For example, if you have children with your spouse, you might be curious about the laws surrounding child custody in Duluth.

There are a lot of misconceptions about child custody law. But you need to know the facts so that you can protect your rights as a parent and the rights of your child or children.

What are the Georgia child custody laws you need to know about? And what factors could determine your suitability as a custodial parent? We are offering child custody tips and education next, so keep reading this child custody guide.

What Is Child Custody?

There are two types of child custody in Georgia:

  1. Physical custody
  2. Legal custody

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Parents can have shared physical custody, also known as joint custody. Alternatively, the court could grant one parent sole physical custody.

A child will split time equally with parents who have joint physical custody. When one parent has sole physical custody, he or she gets to decide when and if the child lives with the other parent.

In joint custody situations, judges usually designate one parent as the child’s primary custodian. That means the primary custodial parent gets the final say in all decisions about where the child lives and when.

Legal custody refers to which parent can make legal decisions about the child. In Georgia, these legal decisions include where the child goes to school, the child’s religion, and when/if the child receives medical treatment.

Georgia parents can also receive joint or sole legal custody. With joint legal custody arrangements, only one parent can make legal decisions for the child. Sole legal custody grants all legal decision-making power to one parent.

What Factors Do Duluth Judges Consider in Child Custody Cases?

It is a common misconception that mothers have more legal rights than fathers when it comes to child custody cases. However, this is not true. By law, judges must consider both parents equally in child custody cases.

And these are the factors judges use to do just that.

The Child’s Best Interest

As in most states, courts determine custodianship based on the child’s best interest. But what exactly does a child’s best interest mean? Unfortunately, this definition varies on a case-by-case basis.

In general, though, child custody may hinge on one or all of the following factors:

  • The home environment each parent can offer the child
  • Each parent’s ability (or inability) to care for the child, which includes each parent’s mental health and physical abilities
  • The child’s emotional attachment to each parent and each parent’s attachment to the child
  • Each parent’s ability (or inability) to provide for the child, including clothing, feeding, and providing health care for the child
  • The willingness of each parent to uphold an amicable relationship with each other

Of course, each parent’s criminal and substance use disorder history also plays into the custody agreement.

Often, judges will not allow a child to spend time with a parent who abuses alcohol, drugs, or other illicit substances. A parent with a history of abuse (physical or sexual) or neglect may also receive unfavorable custody terms.

The Child’s Preference

In Georgia, a child aged 11 years or older can state a preference for one parent or the other in court. Of course, the child can also state a preference for both parents, a strong indicator that joint custody is in the child’s best interest.

Your child’s preference only applies to physical custody. In other words, your child can only state a preference for where he or she wants to live. Legal custody is not up to minor children, no matter how old.

It is also important to understand that a child’s preference is not the only factor the judge will consider. Your child’s preference is in addition to, not in replacement of, the factors we mentioned above.

The Parents’ Parenting Plans

Georgia child custody laws require parenting plans. If your child custody goes to court, the judge will require you and your spouse to submit a plan outlining the child’s needs as well as how you two plan to meet them.

The parenting plan is essentially a proposed child custody agreement. You and your spouse can submit one plan jointly. Or you can both submit a parenting plan separately.

Again, the parenting plan is not the sole factor in determining the physical and legal custody of your child. Instead, the judge will add it to the list of other factors needed to determine your child’s best interest.

Do you need help coming up with a parenting plan in Duluth? Learn more about our parenting plan services to get the help of our seasoned child custody attorneys.

Looking for a Child Custody Attorney in Duluth, GA?

If you are having a divorce with kids in Georgia, you and your spouse must create a child custody agreement. You can come up with an agreement outside of court, or you can seek assistance from a judge.

Do you need legal representation for child custody in Duluth, Georgia? We are a top-rated Marietta family law firm with experience fighting for child custody rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

Ready to Get Started?

We can help. We can guide you through the consultation process starting with a scheduled call back from a member of our law firm intake team. If you would prefer to speak directly and confidently with a divorce lawyer a paid hour consultation is also available. To arrange a meeting, contact us today.