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What can I expect from the child custody process in Georgia?

Some of the difficult emotions with which parents struggle during child custody disputes stem from (or are exacerbated by) an unfamiliarity with the legal process. Parents may be guided by mistaken beliefs or anecdotal recounts from friends and family that are not relevant to their case.

To alleviate some of the anxiety you might be feeling if you are a parent about to go through a divorce, and to help you better prepare for the process, we will explain some basic information about child custody in Georgia.

Different types of custody

First, parents must understand that there are different types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where a child lives. Legal custody refers to the rights of a parent to make decisions on a child's behalf. Parents may have joint or sole physical and/or legal custody.

As long as such an arrangement is in a child's best interests, parents often share both physical and legal custody. However, the courts or parents may decide against shared custody after considering numerous factors such as a child's needs and a parent's capabilities.

Establishing parenting time

Parents will have a parenting plan in place. This plan outlines the rights of each parent and a schedule for when a child will be with each parent. The parenting time does not have to be equally balanced, and the exact schedule should be tailored to the individual needs of the family.

Reaching an agreement

One common misconception people have about custody is that a judge will always decide such matters after a bitter courtroom battle. However, while a judge must approve a custody order, parents often develop their own custody agreement and parenting plan through alternatives to litigation, such as mediation. They decide what is best for their child and what they will do as parents to protect his or her well-being.

However, it is critical to understand that every case is different, and there are no guarantees when it comes to family court and child custody matters. This post is intended to provide some general information about the process; specific details and options vary on a case-by-case basis. As such, individual legal guidance is crucial for every parent when navigating child custody issues.

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