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Child custody and the child's best interests

Just as parents often do in other states, divorcing Georgia parents may become embroiled in a dispute when it comes to child custody. Many times in a divorce, each parent may feel he or she is the best person to care for the children. Unfortunately, when parents cannot resolve these issues on their own, a Georgia court will assume the responsibility of settling child custody based on the best interests of the child.

While parents may hear this terminology quite often during divorce and custody proceedings, they may not understand exactly what it means. The primary goal of determining the best interests of the child is to promote the child's well-being and happiness outside of what either parent may want. Courts look at several factors when determining a child's best interests, such as:

-- The parents' mental and physical health-- The family's religious beliefs and culture-- The age and gender of the child-- The child's school and community involvement-- The presence of domestic violence and drug or alcohol issues-- Examples of extreme forms of punishment delivered by either parent-- The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough

Courts want to discover which parent is best capable of caring for the child and managing the many elements involved in raising the child. At the same time, courts want to make sure the child will be happy and content with the final decision.

Parents are typically better at coping with court ordered child custody decisions when they remember that the child's health and well-being is everyone's goal. Learning more about their legal rights and custody options can also help ease the process. Discussing custody issues with a family law attorney in Georgia is a great way to get started.

Source: FindLaw, "Focusing on the "Best Interests" of the Child," accessed Aug. 13, 2015

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