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How Does Child Custody Work in Georgia?

If you and your partner have chosen to initiate a divorce, there are several significant factors that you must consider. Money, division of assets and debts, and selecting the appropriate attorney are all crucial, but if you have kids, this will introduce an entirely different set of factors into your divorce proceedings. 

In this blog post, we’re going to talk about how child custody works in Georgia, whether you need a lawyer, what judges look at, custody for fathers, and more.  

Types of Child Custody in Georgia 

In Georgia, there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody is when the child lives or spends time with the parent. It can be joint, primary, secondary, or sole custody. Legal custody deals with decisions and access to information for your child. The major areas of legal custody are non-emergency medical, legal, educational, and religious decisions on the child’s behalf.   

Learn more about what joint legal custody means in this video⤵️ 


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How Does the Child Custody Process Work in Georgia? 

During a divorce, a petition for child custody will be included in your divorce papers. The papers must then be served to the other party using a process server or sheriff’s office.  

One term you will likely hear often during your custody case is “best interest” – as in, what decisions, actions, or schedule is in the “best interest” of your child. This just means that a judge will make decisions based on a few different factors. So, what are the “best interests” judges commonly look for in child custody cases? 

➡️ Each parent’s home environment and ability to care for and nurture the child 

➡️ Each parent’s physical and mental health 

➡️ Each parent’s emotional ties to the child 

➡️ Each parent’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care 

➡️ The relationship between the child and any siblings, half siblings, or stepsiblings who are in either parent’s home 

Reference the full list considerations in our other blog post about child custody in Georgia.  


What documents will you need for a child custody case? 


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Is Georgia a “Mom” State? 

According to GA Code § 19-9-3 (2020), “there shall be no prima-facie right to the custody of the child in the father or mother. There shall be no presumption in favor of any particular form of custody, legal or physical, nor in favor of either parent.”  

During a divorce, fathers have the same rights to the child(ren) as mothers unless there is a legitimate reason for the children to be kept from them. The judge will look at each parent objectively based on the criteria listed above. However, if the parents were never married, the father would need to file for legitimation to have any rights to the child.   


Do You Need a Lawyer for Child Custody Cases? 

Child custody cases can be incredibly complicated. Parenting plans, varying state laws, possible mediation, and other factors require trusted representation to stand by your side. Having an experienced attorney not only helps you from preventing costly mistakes, but it can also take an enormous burden off your shoulders. Dealing with a divorce and custody case can be emotionally draining. You shouldn’t have to handle that all on your own. 

If you have questions about your custody situation or are interested in scheduling a consultation, contact the attorneys at Brown Dutton & Crider today. Call (678) 730-2578 or get in touch with us here