The court looks at the best interests of the child when determining custody and approving or altering a suggested parenting plan. The court considers a number of factors, including:
- Ability to maintain family relationships.
- Child preference, depending upon the age of the child.
- The capacity to provide necessary basic care.
- Physical and psychological health of each parent.
- Home environment.
- Involvement in the child’s education, social, and extracurricular activities.
- The parent who has been the primary care giver in the past and the ability to continue as the primary care giver.
- Substance abuse by either parent.
There are two aspects of child custody on which the court will rule if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan:
Physical custody is the determination of when the child or children will live with or spend time with each parent. In Georgia, the court prefers one parent to have primary physical custody.
Legal custody is the control over important decisions about the upbringing of the child, including decisions over education, health care, religion, extracurricular activities, etc. In Georgia, the court will often award joint legal custody, but if the parents cannot agree on an issue, the primary physical custodian will generally make the final decision.
Our family law attorneys will advise you about how the factors listed above and your individual circumstances will inform the court’s reasoning in resolving a child custody dispute and developing a parenting plan. For example, there are serious implications if a parent wants primary physical custody, but plans to move out of state. A common child custody arrangement is one where one parent is awarded primary physical custody and the other parent, known as the noncustodial parent, will have physical custody of the child or children every other weekend, every other holiday, one or two nights per week, and an extended vacation under the parenting plan.
To find out more about the legal, practical and emotional aspects of child custody and visitation disputes in Georgia family law, contact an experienced attorney at Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C., in Alpharetta.