When a relationship has produced minor children, custody arrangements often take center stage during a divorce or legal separation. In fact, one of the first questions your divorce attorney may ask you is whether you have children with your partner. There are many issues that may arise during the establishment of child custody in Cumming, such as whether one of the parents is unfit, how parenting time will be shared, and whether the family court will consider the preferences of the minor child.
The primary concern of the judge is to ensure that the custody arrangement serves the best interests of the
child. Generally, it is considered in the child’s best interest to have an ongoing relationship with both parents. The judge may grant joint legal and physical custody, which means the parents both have legal rights in the child’s life (though those rights may not be fully equal). However, in some cases the judge may grant sole custody. Tell your divorce attorney if the other parent has a documented history of substance abuse, criminal activity, domestic violence, or child abuse and endangerment. These factors may demonstrate that the other parent is unfit, thus you may be a candidate to be granted sole custody.
In Georgia, the family law cases may require, if not encourage, parents to create a detailed parenting plan before arriving for the court appearance. This document should include a parenting time schedule. Your family attorney can advise you with regard to this document. Your proposed parenting time schedule will spell out exactly when each parent will have time with the child. It should include a schedule for school vacations, holidays, birthdays, and similar special occasions. It should also include details about which parent will be responsible for transporting the child during visitation times. Your attorney may recommend mediation, which can help you and the other parent develop this proposed plan.
Minor Child’s Preferences
In Georgia, the preferences of a minor child regarding custodial arrangements may be considered in limited circumstances. The judge may only consider the child’s preferences when the child has reached a certain age. In Georgia, child custody laws provide a higher degree of autonomy as the child ages. At the age of 11 years old, a child may express a preference of where they live, which a judge may consider, but does not need to. As soon as the child turns 14 years old, he or she can choose which parent he or she wants to live with and this child election will generally be followed by a court, unless the parent selected has significant issues. For children, under the age of 11 children do not have a statutory right to express a preference, but a court still might consider the wishes of the child in determining what situation is in the best interest of the child.