Child custody disputes can be difficult and traumatic for everyone involved. As a result, it is helpful for parents going through the child custody process to understand how child custody is determined in Georgia so they can arrive as a child custody arrangement that is best for their child.

Child custody arrangements are always based on what is in the best interests of the child. What is in the best interests of the child is determined on a case-by-case basis and is unique in every situation. A variety of different factors are considered to determine what is in the child’s best interests and it is helpful for divorcing parents to be familiar with the factors that will be considered. Children over the age of 14 may be able to determine which parent they want to have custody but the family law court will evaluate their preference to determine if it is also in their best interests.

Both physical and legal custody of the child will need to be determined which may also include a visitation agreement. When developing a parenting plan, the family law court will consider which parent will have physical custody of the child and which parent will make important decisions for the child such as those related to their education, medical care and religious upbringing or if both parents will make those decisions. The family law court will also take into account that maintaining the continuity of the parent-child relationship whenever possible is commonly in the child’s best interests and the changing needs of the child as they grow, mature and develop.

The overall goal of the child custody process and evaluating what is in the child’s best interests is to develop a child custody arrangement that supports the child’s safety and overall well-being. Because of the importance of a child custody arrangement for the child and the family, it is helpful for parents to understand the child custody process and the standard used to guide child custody considerations so they can remain focused on it themselves.