Child Custody & Visitation
Georgia courts always consider the best interest of the child when making custody determinations. Both parents are equals when it comes to custody (no, there is no gender bias; the mother and father receive equal consideration). Courts may award sole or joint custody. There are two types: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to whom the child/ren will live. Legal custody refers to parents' abilities to make decisions regarding major issues (e.g., education, religion, medical/health, etc.). One parent has the final say regarding these issues.
It is important to note that a child or children 14 years or older may make a custody election (stating with which parent s/he or they prefer to live). The judge may overrule this election if the s/he rules that the election is not in the child/ren's best interest.
Children must have a relationship with both parents. As such, Georgia law requires a parenting plan for any custody agreement. A parenting plan is developed by both parents and approved by the court. If the parents cannot agree, the court will guide the plan. Mediation is almost always a part of this process. The plan includes time-sharing, decision-making, communication methods, transportation for visitation, relocation, rules of conduct, etc.
Contempt: Contempt occurs when a court's order is willfully disobeyed. For example, if the custodial parent (the parent having physical custody) refuses to allow the non-custodial parent (parent not having physical custody) to visit the child/ren, that parent may be in contempt of the court's order.
If you have questions, concerns, or need legal representation regarding custody, do not hesitate to contact the law office.