Georgia has two types of child custody – legal and physical custody.
Determining custody of children can arise through a divorce proceeding, a legitimation or paternity proceeding or through a petition to modify custody proceeding.
Custody, like child support, can be modified for a variety of reasons including a change in circumstances for the mother, father, or child.
Physical custody is where a child physically resides on a day-to-day basis. Typically, one parent is determined to be the primary custodial parent, meaning that the child/ children reside with that parent a majority of the time.
It should be noted that many parents and Courts alike have opted for split physical custody, meaning both parents have equal parenting time with the minor child/ children.
Children have an opportunity to express who they would like to live with starting at age 12. Children are typically not allowed to be present during any legal proceedings, however there are several options to allow children of age to express their desires to the court.
Courts may use a guardian to help them decide who should have physical custody of the children. A guardian can be the eyes and ears of the Judge outside the courtroom and provides a recommendation to the Judge after they conduct investigations into each parents living arrangement. Our attorneys at LaForge & Elder, LLC are well versed in the use and importance of of using guardians in child custody cases.
Legal Custody is the ability to make major decision for the minor child/children. Examples of major decision making within legal custody include medical, education, and religion decisions.
Typically, both parents share legal custody of the child/ children. This means the parents should discuss major decisions between each other before reaching a conclusion.
Ultimately, one parent will be awarded final decision making in the event the parents can not reach an agreement.
Courts use the best interest of the child standard to determine custody decisions. The best interest of child is determined by a variety factors that are unique to each case.
Grandparents have certain rights in Georgia including ability to intervene in custody disputes as well as establish visitation rights to their grandchildren.