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Elements of child custody determinations

Parents in Georgia who are contemplating a divorce may benefit from learning more about the statutes concerning child custody and how courts focus on accommodating the best interests of the child. According to Georgia law, there is to be no presumption in favor of either parent. Using their own discretion in the best interest of the child, judges may order joint physical custody, joint legal custody, joint custody or sole custody on a temporary or permanent basis.

Promoting the child's best interest, including their happiness and good welfare, is the often the sole priority and duty of judges presiding over custody cases. Some of the factors judges routinely consider include the quality of each parent's emotional relationship with the child, the relationship between the child and other siblings in the same residence and the capacity of each parent to love, nurture, educate and raise the child. Family courts also consider each parent's awareness and comprehension of the child's needs.

Judges often evaluate the parents' ability to provide daily needs, medical care, clothing, food and other items required for basic needs. Courts also assess the home environment to confirm that it is both safe and nurturing for the child. Continuity and stability are often both top priorities when making decisions about how to design a parenting plan or award rights to custody. Judges also assess each parent's physical and mental health and their involvement in the child's education and extracurricular activities.

A parent who needs help with a child custody dispute can often benefit from speaking with a family law attorney. Such an attorney can help a client understand more about the particular factors that will enter into a child custody order.

Source: Womens' Law, "Georgia Statutes", October 08, 2014

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