Georgia Child Custody Law

Child Custody laws in Georgia can be confusing for parents going through a divorce or for parents who are separating but were never married.  Many people have questions as to who decides these issues and how the decisions are made.

Who decides custody issues? 
Issues of custody are decided by the judge, not a jury.  Many people believe that in a child custody dispute, the mother will always be awarded custody, but that is not the case.  Georgia law specifically states that there is no presumed right to custody in the mother or the father.

How does the judge arrive at a custody decision?
A court must make a decision concerning the custody of a child or children based on what is in the child’s best interest.  Many people ask, how does a court determine what is in a child’s best interest.  Georgia law provides a laundry-list of factors for the Court to consider in making its decision.  Included in this list are the following:

•    The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;

•    The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and stepsiblings and the residence of such other children;

•    The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child;

•    Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;

•    The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent;

•    The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;

•    The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

•    The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child;

•    The mental and physical health of each parent;

•    Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;

•    Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;

•    The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;

•    Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;

•    The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child;

•    Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;

•    Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent; and

•    Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent.

Not every factor or consideration above applies to every case.  It is important that you have an experienced child custody attorney to help guide you through your child custody case.

Call the Attorneys at Jarrett & Price and Speak With Us About Your Case Today. 
The Attorneys at Jarrett & Price take the time with our clients to consider these factors and have the knowledge and experience to develop the presentation of your case so the court can make an informed decision.  We recognize that hiring us to represent you in a child custody matter involves your most precious interests and we approach your case keeping that recognition centrally focused.

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