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How child custody is determined in Georgia

If you are considering divorce and have children, you will benefit from knowing how Georgia courts deal with such disputes. The main criterion in child custody arrangements is the best interest of the child.

Learn what Georgia laws consider when determining what is best for your child.

Factors regarding your child

These are common factors regarding your child that are considered when determining custody and parenting plan outcomes.:

Health: The physical and mental health of your child.

Age: At age 11, your child can voice his or her preference of whom to live with, but the judge has broad discretion to consider the opinion. At age 14, the child's choice is honored, except under limited circumstances.

Routine: The existing routine and daily activities of the child.

Factors related to parents

Georgia courts also consider several factors regarding parent/child relationships and the characteristics of each parent. These include:

  • The bond between child and parent
  • The health of each parent
  • History of abuse
  • Home environment
  • Ability to provide and nurture
  • Willingness to encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • Involvement in the daily schedule of the child

Determining a parenting plan

You and your divorcing spouse must submit a parenting plan. You can submit separate plans or a joint parenting plan. Either way, the plan should showcase the needs of the child and how you will share parenting time, including holidays and special events. It also determines the limits of access and how you will make decisions on behalf of the child.

Appointing a custody evaluator

In certain cases, especially when there is extreme contention between parents regarding custody decisions, a judge may appoint a representative for the child. This person is sometimes called a custody evaluator or a guardian ad litem. The role of this professional is to act on behalf of the child, speak with the family and make a recommendation to the judge. This judge will consider the recommendation in custody determinations.

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