Being a parent is one of life’s greatest joys for you and your partner. But if you fall out of love with your partner and divorce is on the horizon, you may be very concerned about how the split will affect your child and affect the time you get to spend with your child. If this is the case, it is important to understand child custody laws in Georgia and how they apply to you.
Child custody basics
There are two types of child custody in Georgia: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make key life decisions on behalf of the child such as where the child will go to school, what doctors the child will see and what religion the child will participate in. Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis. Both legal custody and physical custody can be either joint or separate.
Child custody factors
Under Georgia law any child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child. There are a variety of factors the court will consider when making child custody decisions. They include:
- The bond between each parent and the child
- The bond the child has with siblings
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to provide the child with love and guidance
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to further the education and rearing of the child
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
- The safety of each parent’s home
- The importance of community in the child’s life
- Whether a parent can provide a stable home environment
- The health of both parents and the child
- The parent’s involvement in the child’s school and extracurricular activities
- Each parent’s work situation
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent
- Whether domestic violence or substance abuse is an issue
This list is not exhaustive. There are other factors a court can consider not listed here.
In the end, when it comes to children and divorce the child’s best interests must be prioritized above all other interests. It is in the best interests of both the parents and the child to ensure the child’s needs are met post-divorce and that the child can have a meaningful relationship with both parents if appropriate.