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Divorce can be emotionally challenging, especially when children are involved. Both a child’s parents may care deeply for their child, even if their love for each other has ended. Child custody disputes, however, can be very damaging for all involved. For this reason, when Georgia courts make decisions on which parent will have custody of the child, they will base their decision on the “best interests of the child.”

There are a variety of factors courts will consider when determining the best interests of the child. One is the love and emotional bond the child has with each parent, along with any siblings and other members of the household the child lives with. Each parent’s ability and willingness to provide the child with love, affection and guidance and their ability and willingness to continue raising the child and continue the child’s education will also be considered.

Each parent’s familiarity with the child’s needs, and each parent’s ability and willingness to meet the child’s basic day-to-day needs and medical care, keeping potential child support payments in mind, will also be considered. Another factor is the home environment each parent can provide, prioritizing nurturance and safety over superficial factors. The desirability of keeping the child in a stable environment and stable family unit may also be considered.

Each parent’s health, along with the health or special needs of the child, will be considered, as will their employment schedule. Each parent’s involvement in the child’s school, social and extracurricular activities, along with their past and potential ability to meet their parenting responsibilities, may be considered. Each parent’s capacity to help foster a relationship between the child and the other parent post-divorce may also be considered. Finally, instances of domestic abuse or violence may be considered, as may substance abuse.

As this shows, child custody decisions in Georgia are not made lightly. Courts will consider many factors, so that a child custody arrangement can be made that is in the child’s best interests. Divorce can be difficult for children, so making sure their physical and emotional needs are being met during this challenging time is of the utmost importance.