Dealing with child custody is often very complex and difficult. Now that you and your husband have decided to divorce, it is important to have an understanding of Georgia's child custody laws. Knowing what to expect can help you make the right decisions when negotiating a child custody agreement with your husband.
In order to limit conflicts, all states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). The Act allows you to opt for joint custody and it recognizes grandparents' visitation rights. An Alpharetta family law attorney can help you navigate child custody issues during your divorce. Read further for an overview of Georgia's child custody laws.
Legal custody and physical custody
The state of Georgia recognizes both legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives you the right to make major life decisions for your children. This includes schooling, religion and other such decisions. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom your children legally reside. Either one or both of you can have legal and/or physical custody.
Joint legal custody
If you opt for joint legal custody, both of you will be able to make major life decisions for your children. Even if your children live with you full-time, your husband will still have the right to be involved in these major decisions.
Georgia allows children over 14 years old to choose which parent they want to live with. However, a judge can overrule the decision if it does not seem to be in the child's best interests. For example, your oldest child may choose to live with your husband, but the court decides it is not the best environment for a child.
One of the most important things you can have to help your children deal with the new schedule is a parenting plan. In general, parenting plans help maintain continuity of the parent-child relationship. Unless there is abuse, this is usually in the best interests of the children. A strong parenting plan will be flexible so that it can change as your children's needs change. It should also include guidelines for making daily decisions and dealing with emergencies while your children are with each one of you.
Parenting plans also typically address special events, such as birthdays, holidays and breaks from school. It will help you determine a schedule for activities, transportation needs and many other considerations.
If you are facing custody issues due to an impending divorce, it is important to understand your rights and options as a parent.