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Can you determine your own custody arrangement?

If you're trying to obtain custody of your child, it's important to understand what information you should provide to the courts. One of the most helpful pieces of information is a parenting plan. If you and your spouse can put one together before going to court, then the plan can be reviewed and may be accepted as it is.

That plan may focus on your parenting time schedules, proposals for traveling and transportation arrangements, agreements about how the parents can talk to the child when in the other's care and more. The judge will review this information, and if he or she agrees with the statements, he or she may approve the plan. If not, then he or she will be most interested in acting in the best interest of your child.

If a judge determines custody for you, he or she may look at the child's current health or health conditions, safety and comfort levels. What the judge determines at this point is binding; there are not many ways to change the arrangements unless there is a change in the circumstances of one party or the other.

Another thing to consider is the age at which your child can choose where to live. At 14 years old, your child can decide if he or she wants to live with you or the other parent. Your child may make changes as necessary every two years, but it is up to your child and the review of the court to determine where is better to live. If you're concerned about your child making this decision or want to be sure you get the custody and visitation time you deserve, you may want to speak with your attorney about how to make sure a judge is getting the entire story before making a decision.

Source: Georgia.gov, "Learning about Child Custody," accessed Jan. 01, 2016

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