When parents in Georgia go through a divorce, they must negotiate child custody and visitation. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the next step might be going to court. The standard used by a judge to make a decision about child custody is the best interests of the child.
A judge considers several factors to make a decision about what is in the child's best interests. A parent's physical and mental health is important as is the parent's ability to provide for the child. This includes providing food, shelter and clothing as well as access to education and emotional support. A court is unlikely to approve a custody situation that will lead to significant upheaval. In general, the aim is to disrupt the child's routine as little as possible. The child's age is also a factor since a very young child may need more care than older children. The court will consider the child's relationship with both parents, and older children might have some say about the custody and visitation arrangement.
Parents can show they have the child's best interests in mind by demonstrating participation in the child's education, extracurricular activities and more. Courts will be reluctant to agree to a custody arrangement that cuts off access to one parent or involves relocation unless these are also in the best interests of the child.
Parents who do want to make sure the other parent does not have access to the child because of concerns about abuse, neglect or a parental abduction might want to discuss the situation with an attorney. Safeguards could be put in place to prevent an abduction, and an abusive parent may only be permitted supervised visitation or may be denied visitation. However, in less extreme cases, parents may want to try to negotiate a child custody agreement instead of going to court.