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Georgia Child Custody and Child Visitation

In some circumstances, parents must tackle the issue of child custody and child visitation. If a parent of guardian obtains child custody they will have the right to make numerous decisions regarding the minor’s welfare, including health care, living location of the child, and education. Courts in Georgia will make their child custody and visitation rights determinations based on the best interests of the child standard. This standard is reached by considering a number of factors provided by Georgia law. Since the content below provides only basic information, be sure to consult a Georgia child custody lawyer before going through Georgia child custody proceedings.

Georgia Child Custody

Georgia courts will determine whether to give one or both parents child custody depending on what is in the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child are determined in Georgia by assessing the following factors:

  • The emotional ties between the child and each parent
  • The emotional ties between the child and his or her siblings
  • The ability of each parent to sustain a strong and loving relationship with the child
  • Each parent’s knowledge and understanding of the child’s needs
  • The home environment of each parent
  • The stability of each parent’s family unit

During child custody proceedings, if there are any allegations of abuse, neglect, or any other acts that threaten the health or well-being of the child, the court may order an investigation into the homes of both parents. A report of the investigation will be provided for the judge and it will be used during the custody decision-making process.

Georgia law does not favor custody in either the mother’s or father’s favor. In cases of child custody, the court will have either each parent submit a “parenting plan” or have both parents submit a joint parenting plan. Parenting plans should include: a) some recognition that a strong and continuing relationship with the child is in the child’s best interests; b) an understanding that the child’s needs from each parent will change as he becomes older; c) recognizing that the parent with custody will make daily decisions and emergency decisions while the child is residing with that parent; and d) both parents will have access to all of the child’s confidential records and information. The court decides whether to approve the parenting plan. Once approved, the parenting plan becomes a part of the court’s final child custody order.

A unique aspect of Georgia law regards the right of a minor child to choose his or her custodial parent. Children who are 14 years or older have the right to choose which parent should have custody. The child’s choice will be upheld by the court as long as the parent chosen is in the best interests of the child. If the child is between 11 and 13 years old, then the court will consider the child’s wishes in its decision-making process, however the child’s wishes are not binding.

When going through the child custody process, it is strongly recommended that one obtain a Georgia child custody attorney to ensure that all the relevant points of law are understood and addressed.

Georgia Child Visitation Rights

Generally, noncustodial parents (parents without custody of the child) are awarded visitation rights—rights allowing the noncustodial parent to visit and spend time with his or her child. Georgia courts will provide visitation rights to a noncustodial parent as long as it is in the best interests of the child. This conclusion is reached by considering the nature and extent of the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s mental, physical, and emotional health, and other factors that would impact the child’s well-being.

If the noncustodial parent seeking Georgia visitation rights has any history of family violence, then the court will not grant this parent visitation rights unless it can ensure the safety of the child during visitation. To do so, a judge may:

  • order that the exchange of the child be done in a protected setting;
  • order that the visitation be supervised by a third party;
  • order the parent to refrain from using drugs, alcohol, or other substances;
  • prohibit overnight visitation; or
  • impose any condition that is deemed necessary to provide the child’s safety.

A discussion regarding your child visitation rights should be done with a Georgia child custody lawyer.

Georgia Statutes

Child Custody and Visitation Rights

  1. Georgia Child Custody
    • Tit. 19, Chp.9, Art. 1 §§ 19-9-1 through 19-9-7.
  2. Georgia Visitation Rights
    • Tit. 23, Chp.53, Art. 1 §§ 19-9-1 through 19-9-7.
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