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How Is Child Custody Decided?

Child custody is often a major point of contention in divorce proceedings. If you are engaged in a child custody dispute in Cumming, it's highly advisable that you consult a family law attorney promptly if you haven't already done so. Your attorney can argue in favor of your preferred custody arrangement. Judges are generally given broad discretion in determining the type of custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. To establish an arrangement, a judge may consider a variety of factors.

Personal Histories of the Parents

Each parent's personal history may become a factor in a child custody case. The judge can consider the criminal records, if any, of both parents. Family law attorneys may introduce evidence regarding either parent's history of substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or child neglect.

Abilities and Relationships of the Parents

The law presumes that it is in the best interests of the child to maintain a close, continuous relationship with both parents. The judge will consider the prior relationships of the child with each parent, including the extent to which each parent has been involved with the child's schooling, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and other matters pertaining to childrearing. The judge may consider the ability of each parent to provide the child with needed medical care, housing, and food. The judge may consider the extent to which each parent is familiar with the child's needs. The stability of the home environment is another important consideration, since children need stability to thrive.

Preferences of the Child

In many states, the preferences of the child are not a major factor in determining child custody. Georgia family law is different. In Georgia, a child may decide which parent he or she wants to live with when the child turns 14 years old. After expressing a custody preference, the child may then request a change in custody no more frequently than every two years. It is possible that a family law judge will overrule this custody election if the judge determines that it is not in the best interests of the child.

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