Skilled Georgia Child Custody Attorneys
Helping To Protect You and Your Children
Child Custody is frequently the most emotional, difficult, and contentious aspect of a contested divorce.
Tensions run high when divorcing parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement and parenting time schedule for their children. Our firm can help!
Physical Custody relates to the parenting time awarded to each parent and varies from case to case. Georgia law does not mandate the amount of parenting time given to each parent. Custody of children is by far the most contentious and contested issue in most divorce cases.
Parents are encouraged to come up with a custody arrangement they believe best promotes their children’s well-being and best interests during a
divorce or legitimation action. Unfortunately, oftentimes parents are unable to agree on that. When parties cannot agree on custody, a judge is tasked with determining a custody arrangement that
best promotes their children’s welfare and happiness by using the “best interest of the child” standard. Under the “best interest of the child” standard, judges consider some of the following factors:
The relationship between the child and each parent;
The relationship between the child and their siblings;
The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance
The ability of each parent to continue the child’s education and rearing;
Each parent’s knowledge and understanding of the child’s needs
Each parent’s ability and disposition to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care;
Each parent’s ability to provide the child with a nurturing and safe home environment;
The stability of each parent’s family unit
Each parent’s support systems within the community; and
Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s education, social, and extracurricular activities;
Primary physical custody relates to where the child primary lives the majority of the time. Parenting time for the primary physical custodian can range from 51% to 99%.
Joint physical custody is also referred to as shared custody or “50/50” custody. Joint physical custody is where parents have equal or close to equal parenting time with their children. There are many factors that go into determining whether joint physical custody is in a child’s best interest. The parent’s ability to communicate, the distance between the parents’ homes, whether the parents are on the same page
regarding discipline, homework, and extra-curricular activities, and whether the children can smoothly transition from one household to the other are just a few considerations.
Once the court determines physical custody, visitation also known as “Parenting Time”, must be determined. Oftentimes courts will settle for what is typically considered standard visitation for a non-custodial parent which is every other weekend from Friday at 6:00pm to Sunday at 6:00pm, one evening visit during the off week (the week the noncustodial parent does not have weekend visitation), a few weeks in the summer, and alternating holidays.
At Bardley McKnight Law, we do not settle for is “standard”. We look at the facts and circumstances of each case and we develop a customized case
strategy to achieve the best custody arrangement for our clients and their children, Some parents opt for a week on, week off parenting schedule. This parenting schedule gives each parent a full week of exclusive parenting time and each parent is responsible for getting the child to an from school and
extra-curricular activities during their week.
Another option is to split the week and exchange the child midweek on Thursday. This is a great option where one parent works
every weekend and their days off from work are usually weekdays.
Another parenting plan option is the 2-2-3 schedule. With the 2-2-3 parenting schedule, one parents has parenting time with the child Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has parenting time on Wednesday and Thursday, and the parties alternate the weekend, Friday through Sunday.
There is also the option for a 4-3, 3-4 parenting schedule. With a 4-3,3-4 parenting schedule Parent A has four full days with the child, Parent B has three full days with the child, Parent A then has three full days with the child, followed by four full days for Parent B. I find the 4-3, 3-4 parenting schedule to be ideal when the parties have a young child.
Parenting time varies from case to case and is based on the facts and circumstances relative to each situation.Remember, children strive where there is structure and cohesion.The parenting time schedule must serve the minor child’s best interests.
Legal custody is the right of a parent to make major decisions regarding four major areas of their child’s life, health, and well-being: education, non-emergency medical, extra-curricular activities, and religious upbringing.
In most cases, the parties are awarded joint legal custody.With joint legal custody, parents are required to discuss all matters related to those four major areas with the goal of reaching a mutual agreement before a final decision is made.Co-parenting is a lot easier when parents can agree on what’s in their child’s best interest.
Even with joint legal custody, one parent must be designated the “tie breaker” and will have final decision-making authority in the event parties are unable to come to a mutual agreement after thoroughly discussing an issue. Final decision-making authority does not allow for one parent to make unilateral decisions. That parent must still consult with the other parent before making any major decisions.
Oftentimes a judge will have parents share the tie-breaker role.One parent will be tie-breaker as to some of the major areas and the other will be the tie-breaker as to the other major areas.
We often request that the parties alternate being the tie-breaker as to extra-curricular activities, meaning one will be the tie breaker in even years and the other will be the tie-breaker in odd years.We find this arrangement gives parents a built-in incentive to work with each other since extra-curricular activities usually require a huge time and financial commitment on the part of both parents.
Religious upbringing tends to get the least amount of attention because parents focus more on education and extra-curricular activities but it deserves just as must consideration as the other areas. Though parents are free to have their children engage in religious activities of their choosing during their parenting time, one parent’s religious beliefs can greatly impact educational and non-emergency medical decisions.
It is important to thoroughly discuss all four major areas associated with legal custody during settlement negotiations or in preparation for trial.
Our knowledgeable Georgia Child Custody Attorneys will protect you and your children
We help protect your rights as well as seeing to the best interests of your children. With so much at stake, contact us at (470) 308-5409 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Bardley McKnight child custody lawyer today.