Georgia Child Custody is determined by the child’s best interest
Georgia laws governing child custody strictly focus on children’s welfare.
“You bring children into the world. You love them with heart and soul,” said Georgia author Alice Walker. The parental love Walker describes causes a parent facing custodial litigation to feel overwhelmingly concerned about how child custody will be resolved and how the new visitation will impact the child or children.
Georgia law puts the child’s best interest first in every child custody decision. Neither parent is favored however parents of minor children are encouraged to co-parent in the best interest of the child. This includes keeping each other informed of activities, events, health issues, and all important aspects of the child’s life.
Parents of children may come to an agreement on a visitation schedule whether they are divorcing, transferring custody, or going through legitimation. The agreement must be in the child’s best interest and submitted to the court for the Judge’s approval.
If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation, the Judge will decide on custody and visitation issues based on evidence presented by the attorney and the parties, a Guardian Ad Litem’s testimony, and any psychological evaluation ordered by the Judge. It is the duty of the Judge in all cases to determine solely what is in the best interest of the child and what will best promote the child’s welfare and happiness. Some of the factors to make this determination include
- 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 siblings, half siblings, step siblings, and the residence of such other children;
- the capacity of each parent to give guidance to the child and to continue the education of the child;
- each parents knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;
- the capacity 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 potential payment of child support by the other parent;
- the safety of the home environment;
- the continuity and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;
- the stability of the family unit;
- the mental and physical health of the parent;
- each parent’s involvement in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
- the parent’s employment schedule and related flexibility or limitations;
- grades, absences, tardies, school and medical records;
- the past performance of parental responsibilities;
- the willingness of the parent to encourage a close parent-child relationship with the other parent;
- criminal history of parents or persons having contact with the child;
- substance abuse by either parent.
In addition, the custody wishes of a child 14 or older shall be granted unless the judge deems it not to be in the best interest of the child. Also, children ages 11-14 wishes shall be taken into consideration by the judge.
Attorney Cara Rowe is experienced in custody issues and has litigated and gained parties custody of many children and has negotiated many visitation and parenting plans while always keeping the child’s best interest in mind.
Keywords: Georgia, child custody, best interest, judge, court, custodial litigation, visitation