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Determining child custody during divorce

Married parents who are considering divorce are also forced to think about how that decision will affect their children. As of Jan. 1, 2008, Georgia courts require parents to present plans that outline what they believe to be in the best interests of their children. After reviewing those plans and all other pertinent information, the courts render decisions.

In their plans, parents outline where the children will live and how they will ensure that children have access to the other parent. The plans must also detail how both parents will share major decisions and how differences in opinion will be resolved. Additionally, itineraries of where children will spend vacations and holidays must be addressed. If children will require transportation for those occasions, travel plans and who will be responsible for the cost must be included in the plans.

The court reviews the parenting plan and determines custody. Some factors included in the court's decisions are children's wishes, if they are over the age of 14, and which parent has taken the lead in child-rearing activities in the past. The judge also looks at the bond the child has formed with each parent and as well as grandparents, siblings and community members. The relative safety of parents' homes and their abilities to foster growth and child development are also considered by the courts.

Courts approach child custody impartially and strives to make decisions based on the best interests of children. An attorney may be able to help a divorcing parent present a complete parenting plan that fully addresses all of the court's concerns. A family law attorney could also aid a client with reviewing the viability of suggestions for custody made by the other parent.

Source: gabar.org, "Divorce", September 15, 2014

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