When parents don't agree on child custody, a judge decides legal and physical custody, as well as a visitation schedule, on their behalf. Georgia courts determine child custody based on what's in each child's best interest. Judges consider several factors when deciding custody, including each of the following:
- each parent's stability and home environment
- each parent's relationship with the child
- each parent's involvement in the child's medical, educational, and social needs
- each parent's ability to properly parent a child, and provide for the child's basic needs
- the child's relationship with siblings, half-siblings, and other occupants of each parent's residence
- each parent's willingness to encourage a positive relationship between the child and other parent
- each parent's physical and mental health
- either parent's history of domestic violence or substance abuse, and
- any other factor that affects a child's welfare.
Children aged 14 or older may choose the parent they'd rather live with, subject to a judge's approval. Courts must consider a child's preference when the child is between 11 and 14, and may consider a younger child's opinion when the child is mature enough to make a reasonable preference. Read my article on a child's preference in Georgia custody proceedings at divorcenet.com.
When the parents don't agree on custody, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem, whose job it is to investigate factors affecting the custody decision and make a recommendation on custody to the court. Schedule a consultation with our family law attorneys to discuss your child custody case today.