When parents don’t agree about the way to split their responsibilities to and time with their children in a divorce, a Georgia family law judge may have to make certain decisions for the family. For example, they may decide on a specific division of parenting time or how the parents will split other responsibilities, like their financial obligations for the children’s daycare and educational expenses.
Even couples attempting to settle matters outside of court often reference the way the courts handle these cases, which makes understanding the approach used in court important to anyone considering a divorce.
What happens during custody litigation in Georgia?
A judge splits both physical and legal custody
The way a couple will share parenting time isn’t the only matter a judge must consider when handling a contested custody case in Georgia. They have to look at all of a child’s needs and determine how the parents can meet them.
Parenting time or physical custody is often a source of conflict. Parents frequently disagree about legal custody as well. Legal custody, on the other hand, is the authority to make decisions for a child. While shared legal and physical custody is common, sometimes one parent has sole physical custody while the other receives visitation or the parents share physical custody but one ultimately has decision-making authority for the children.
How does a judge make those decisions?
Georgia law explains how a judge reaches the decisions regarding the division of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Specifically, state law requires that a judge look at the family circumstances and then try to reach a solution that is in the best interests of the children.
Everything from the role each parent has played in the lives of the children so far to the unique needs of the children will influence exactly what a judge decides is best for them and the rest of the family. Most of the time, family law judges would prefer to see parents share custody. However, in rare cases involving neglect, abuse or health issues that might affect someone’s ability to parent, a judge may give one parent far more authority or parenting time than the other.
Learning more about what influences child custody matters in Georgia can help you prepare for court or negotiate arrangements with your ex.