How Does GA Define Joint Custody?

Georgia law recognizes two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody can be either sole or joint, and physical custody can be sole, joint, or primary/secondary. The most common form of custody is joint legal and primary/secondary physical custody.

Family courts are more inclined to grant parents joint legal custody and primary/secondary physical custody unless it goes against the best interests of the child, such as in cases involving neglect or abuse. This helps foster the relationship of the child with both parents.

Legal Child Custody in GA

Legal custody allows parents to decide crucial aspects of their child’s life, including their non-emergency health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities, among others. Courts prefer to grant parents joint legal custody to ensure that both parents have a say in the upbringing of the child. But if certain disputes arise and the parents can’t reach an agreement, the court will grant one parent the authority to make a final decision.

Physical Child Custody in GA

Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with. The child will live with the custodial parent if they have sole physical custody or with both parents if they have shared physical custody. One parent, usually the custodial parent, will receive child support. When deciding which parent must be the custodial parent, the court will take into account which parent is the child’s primary caregiver, among other things. 

It is also vital to note that courts do not usually grant joint physical child custody unless both parents agree to it and doing so would be in the child’s best interests. The court will often grant visitation rights to the parent whom the child doesn’t live with, unless it is not in the child’s best interest.

How Courts Determine Child Custody in GA

Both parents have equal legal rights to custody of their child. But when parents are divorced, separated, or otherwise not together, courts will determine custody based on various factors. Under the law:

  • Courts will always prioritize the best interests of the children when deciding on custody arrangements.
  • Courts may consider the wishes of a child 14 years and older if their wishes don’t go against their best interests.
  • Gender must not be considered when making custody arrangements.
  • If both parents agree on all matters related to their child, courts are most likely to accept their parenting plan, provided that it upholds the child’s best interests.
  • If both parents cannot agree on a child custody arrangement or are in the middle of a contested divorce case, courts will review all the testimonials and evidence that both parents presented to help them come up with a fair child custody order.

Get Legal Advice From an Experienced Family Lawyer in GA Now

If you have any questions or concerns about child custody, don’t hesitate to contact the GA family lawyer of Banks, Stubbs & McFarland. You can discuss your specific circumstances with our GA family lawyer in a free case evaluation by reaching us online or calling our office at 770-887-1209.