Determining child custody is one of the toughest decisions for divorcing parents and the courts. Rather than having emotions take over, everyone involved should consider what is best for the child instead of making selfish decisions.
In the state of Georgia, if the parents are unable to come up with an agreement, a judge will decide who gets custody. If this is the case, the courts consider certain factors.
Types of custody
According to FindLaw, the courts recognize physical and legal custody as well as sole and joint custody. Physical custody refers to who the child mainly lives with, while legal custody refers to who makes major decisions, such as education, medical care and religion. A judge may grant joint custody for both or grant sole physical custody to one parent and joint legal custody. With sole physical custody, the other parent usually has visitation rights. In the state, grandparents can also request visitation rights.
Best interests factors
One of the factors a judge considers when determining custody are the wishes of the child once the child reaches the age of 14. However, the main considerations a judge looks at is what is in the best interests of the child. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the courts look at a variety of factors that relate to the parent’s ability to care for the child as well as the child’s circumstances.
Some factors include
- Physical and mental needs of the child
- Physical and mental health of each parent and the child
- Ability of each parent to provide basic needs
- The child’s current relationship with each parent, siblings and other family
- Age of child and current living situation
The judge also examines if there is any abuse or violence in the home before making a decision.