Few people look back on divorce as an easy process, and when child custody is part of the equation, the process becomes even more complex and more important than ever. After parents are separated from one another, child custody in Georgia is decided by keeping in mind what is best for the children involved. In an effort to make for the best co-parenting experience, the court looks at options that address unique stressors in the family and visitation issues that go along with them. Ultimately, they work to determine a parenting plan that will explain the regulations surrounding custody and visitation, and how to balance the most efficiently.
The Courts will determine physical custody, which is where the children physically spend their time, as well as legal custody. Legal custody is the decision-making regarding the upbringing of the children. Often, parents are joint legal custodians and are required to co-parent and raise their children together and fully exchange information about the children.
What is a Parenting Plan for Child Custody?
A parenting plan is a written agreement that addresses both legal and physical custody issues. It includes day to day living arrangements as well as provisions for holidays and extended summer visitation. When parents are able to agree to the terms of a parenting plan and where a child will live, custody becomes a bit simpler. Emotions can run high, and often a lawyer and/or mediator is needed in order to find the right custody balance that works for everyone concerned. Some things that parents, lawyers, mediators, and ultimately the court looks at when deciding child custody in Georgia include
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- The child’s connection to their school and community
- The age and sex of the child
- The child’s own living preference, if over age 14
- Support and interaction of family members
- Level of stability in the home
- Evidence of abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Evidence of physical or emotional abuse
Ultimately, the court looks at all these factors and makes a decision on who will have custody of the child(ren) based on what is best for the child. The court will decide a schedule of when the non-custodial parent will be able to spend time with and care for their child(ren), and the custodial parent will be legally required to follow the court’s decision. Most parents prefer to find a way to work together as much as possible and iron out as many details as they can before they go to court.
Protecting Through Child Custody Arrangements
If there is evidence of abuse or drug or alcohol abuse, child custody and visitation plans may need to look different for these families in order to assure that the children involved stay protected. In these cases, the court may award supervised visitation in order to allow the struggling parent to get the help they need while safely maintaining a relationship with their child. The person who supervises these visits should either be someone that both parents agree on, or they may be someone the court appoints.
At Platt Family Law Firm in Roswell, GA, we understand that the right child custody balance isn’t always easy to find, but it isn’t impossible either. Our firm has helped many families find their balance and come up with child custody agreements that are livable for both parents and healthy for the children involved. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us at 404-255-3434 for a consultation.