Dividing child custody amid divorce can get complicated. Here’s everything you need to know about the types of child custody in Georgia.

Child custody jurisdiction varies by state. In Georgia, the types of child custody include joint, sole, physical, and legal. Courts determine how child custody is divided based on the child’s best interests.

What is Child Custody?

Child custody refers to the legal relationship between a parent and their child. Statutes and case law vary by state and help determine child custody settlements.

Georgia divides child custody into joint or sole custody further categorizes it by physical or legal custody. Parents can share child custody types.

Joint Custody in Georgia

Joint custody is the most common child support form in Georgia. Joint custody splits decision-making authority regarding a child between both parents.

Shared decision-making for joint custody may cover:

  • The child’s religious upbringing
  • Medical care
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Education

If parents disagree on any decision, one parent receives final decision-making authority to settle such matters. However, the custodial parent must notify their co-parent before making any of the child’s major decisions.

Sole Custody in Georgia

Sole custody means all custodial rights to a child go to one parent. In a sole custody jurisdiction, the noncustodial parent has no physical or legal rights to their child. However, even if a parent has no rights to their child, they must pay child support if mandated by the courts.

Legal Custody in Georgia

Legal custody refers to the legal child’s responsibility. Parents with legal child custody must decide the child’s welfare, education, and medical care.

When both parents receive joint legal custody, they are legally responsible for decision-making regarding their child. In this case, both parents have equal rights to decide their child’s medical and educational matters. If parents disagree, the court grants one parent final-decision-making authority to settle any possible disputes. The parent with primary physical custody is likely the final decision-maker.

Physical Custody in Georgia

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Both parents can share physical custody. However, even if both parents share physical custody, one parent must be the primary physical custodian while the other parent receives secondary physical custody.

Courts determine the primary physical custodian based on which parent had been the child’s primary caregiver before marital separation.

When parents share joint physical custody, they must equally divide their parenting time with their child. In cases of joint physical custody, a child must live in-between homes. In Georgia, joint physical custody is unusual since parties can only accomplish it through mutual agreement.

How do Georgia courts decide custody?

Georgia courts determine child custody according to the child’s best interests.

When dividing child custody, the courts may look at the following factors:

  • Stability
  • Each parent’s work schedule
  • Each parent’s ability to provide
  • Each parent’s availability
  • The child’s desires

In most cases, the primary caregiver is the parent who spends the most time with the child.

Related: How to Get Temporary Custody in Georgia

FAQs about the Types of Child Support in Georgia

Related: Georgia Child Custody FAQs

When do Georgia courts decide on child custody?

A judge decides on child custody twice in Georgia. The first custody decision occurs at a temporary hearing, and a trial determines the second decision. When the court reaches a final agreement, a judge may finalize custody rights between separating parents.

What is visitation in Georgia?

Visitation refers to the parenting time a judge grants to a non-custodial parent.

Can a parent refuse the other parent’s visitation if they do not pay child support?

Child support and visitation rights are separate issues regarding child custody rights. If a parent does not pay child support, a primary parent can file for contempt. However, unless the court rules in their favor, the primary parent cannot refuse the other parent’s visitation rights.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to know more about types of child custody in Georgia, get your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys today!