Joint custody with equal time sharing between two parents is an initial presumption for a child custody order in many states and in the minds of many family law judges. In reality, these kinds of custody plans may end up taking a toll on the children involved. The system is generally handled better in Georgia and some other states where the courts are not saddled with an initial presumption that joint custody and equal sharing is the first preference.
According to the founder of the National Parents Organization, several recent studies by separate, independent experts conclude across the board that children reared by only one parent after a divorce or separation do much more poorly than children who are brought up in a shared or joint custody arrangement. The superiority of a shared child custody setup applies in Georgia as well as elsewhere. It is clear that most children benefit greatly from having the love, guidance, and companionship of each parent on an equal basis. Nonetheless, family courts nationwide overwhelmingly award sole custody in one parent.
Throughout the country, including in Georgia, there are groups that are lobbying state legislatures for passage of laws that will make it mandatory for shared custody or joint custody arrangements to be ordered by the courts. In the present system of child custody, joint or shared custody arrangements are possible. The court also has wide discretion in fashioning more traditional arrangements, with one parent as the primary physical and legal guardian, and the other parent as a secondary guardian who more or less is restricted to visitation privileges and to sharing in decision-making responsibilities.