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Parenting time after a divorce

In Georgia and across the U.S., courts have the final say concerning matters of child custody and parenting time. A judge considers every situation individually and aims to make decisions in a child's best interests, so there is no guarantee of custody for either party. When assigning custody, a judge uses factors like the relationship already existing between each parent and the child, relationships with any siblings or relatives, each parent's home environment and each parent's ability to responsibly raise a child.

While a judge may make a child custody ruling, parents are required to have a parenting plan in place. This is intended to prevent conflict and give a child structure by providing a schedule for daily life. While the plan is tailored to a family's obligations and needs, courts require that a parenting plan includes a commitment from both parents to continue to foster a strong relationship with their child. Additionally, the plan lists which parent has responsibility for different aspects of a child's life and usually says that the parent who has physical custody is allowed to make routine and emergency decisions.

Apart from the responsibilities that come with physical custody, parents must decide on who can make major decisions in a child's life. One or both parents could have the right to make decisions related to education, religion, health and extracurricular activities.

Though judges must approve parenting time and child custody decisions, parents can communicate to form an agreement that works for both parties and any children involved. This often fits better with a family's current schedule and is more flexible than what a judge may order when a couple cannot make decisions together. A family law attorney can offer advice and help the entire divorce process run smoothly.

Source: State Bar of Georgia, "Divorce, " Accessed on Jan. 15, 2015

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