Coleman Legal Group, LLC
Call 770-609-1247 to speak with an experienced child custody, divorce and family law attorney.
When it comes to child custody and visitation, Georgia law is strongly focused on what is in the best interest of the child(ren). Any and all arguments will be evaluated in light of the child’s best interests. See O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3.
Under Georgia law, both parents are treated as equals when it comes to custody arrangements; the courts will not take into consideration factors such as gender, sexual orientation or age unless they deem it relevant to the well-being of the child.
Two types of custody can awarded under Georgia law: physical and legal. The court may opt to award joint custody in the form of joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.
Physical Custody: refers to which parent the child lives with. When both parents share physical custody, the child can spend equal amounts of time with both parents. If both parties share equal parenting time, then the agreement is said to be joint physical custody. However, if one party has more than 50 percent parenting time, that party is said to have primary physical custody.
Legal Custody: is the right to make major decisions regarding the child. With joint legal custody, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make decisions concerning the child.
There are four major areas of legal custody:
- Medical Decisions: Decision making authority regarding non-emergence medical care (Examples: braces, dental work, elective surgeries, physicals, choice of doctors, etc.)
- Educational Decisions: Decision making authority regarding educational decisions (Examples: location of school, private or public school, tutoring related to the child’s education, classes taken by child, field trips, etc.)
- Extracurricular Decisions: Decision making authority regarding extracurricular activities (Examples: after school activities the child will participate in, or not participate in: sports, cheer leading, chess, martial arts, art, drama, music, chorus, etc.)
- Religious Decisions: Decision making authority regarding the religion the child will be raised in (Examples: the location(s) the child will attend religious services, religious activities the child will participate in, etc.)
The parents can split decision making power in these areas, so that each parent gets the final say in one or more areas. Usually, it works best if one of the parents has final decision making power and both parties are willing to cooperate.
Election of Custody by the Child
In Georgia, children who are fourteen (14) years of age or older are able to decide which parent they prefer to live with. However, it is important to note that the court can overrule the child’s desires if they deem that their choice is not in their best interest. Children of ages eleven to thirteen (11-13) years of age are allowed to express their preferences, but the court need not take them into consideration if it is deemed that they are not in accordance with the child’s best interest.
According to the child custody laws in Georgia, a parenting plan is required for any custody agreement.See O.C.G.A. 19-9-1.The parenting plan should include provisions that respect and acknowledge that:
- a close and continuing parent-child relationship and continuity in the child’s life is in the child’s best interest;
- a child’s needs change and grow as the child matures, and that the parents will consider this in order to minimize future modifications;
- the parent with physical custody will make day-to-day decisions and emergency decisions while the child is residing with that parent;
- both parents will have access to all of the child’s records and information, including matters concerning education, health, extracurricular, and religious instruction.
Unless parents agree or the judge decides otherwise, a parenting plan will also usually outline:
- where the child will spend each day of the year. A good parenting plan will contemplate times when a parent may have to be out of town for business and for emergencies.
- how holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, and other special occasions will be spent. Most parenting plans alternate major holidays and the children’s birthdays. Assuming that the parents live close enough to each other, the children should spend Mother’s day with the mother and Father’s day with the father.
- transportation arrangements, including how and where the child will be exchanged and how transportation costs will be paid. Travel time, stress on the child(ren) and traffic considerations should be contemplated when making transportation decisions.
- if supervision of the parent’s visitation is needed, and if so, the details of the supervision.
- how the parents will allocate decision-making authority with regard to the child’s education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing. If the parties agree the matters should be jointly decided, the parenting plan will outline how to resolve a situation in which the parents disagree. It is wise for one parent to have tie-breaking authority if needed.
- what, if any, limitations exist while one parent has physical custody in terms of the other parents contacting the child and the other parent’s right to have access to information regarding the child. However, the parenting plan should provide for ample time and ways for the parents to communication with their children. A good parenting plan will contemplate the use of Skype (and similar services), email, telephone (land lines and cell phones), and communication through internet social media.
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s Georgia lawyers practice in the areas of Divorce, Family Law, Estates, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Bankruptcy, Business Law and Immigration. We have offices conveniently located at:
North Point Park
5755 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Phone: 770-408-0477 | Map
|Dunwoody, Sandy Springs
GA 400, Atlanta Georgia
1200 Abernathy Rd
Atlanta, GA 30328
Phone: 770-408-0477 | Map
|Johns Creek, Duluth GA
11555 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek, GA 30097
Phone: 770-408-0477 | Map
125 TownPark Drive
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Phone: 770-609-1247 | Map
Georgia Areas We Serve
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s divorce and family law attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Canton, Woodstock, Douglasville, Kennesaw, Gainseville, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Midtown, Inman Park, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, Smyrna, Covington, Conyers, Newborn, Mansfield, Oxford, Social Circle, Porterdale, Buford, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Dacula, Ball Ground and Starrsville.
Our divorce and family law attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette, Newton, Walton, Rockdale and Clayton.
Copyright © 2020 | Coleman Legal Group, LLC | All Rights Reserved. Coleman Legal Group, LLC • 5755 North Point Parkway, Suite 51 • Alpharetta, GA 30022 • 770-609-1247 DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.