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What Is Joint Custody?

Custody concerns are some of the most complex and emotionally fraught divorce concerns. If it involves your children and your parental rights, it’s important, and you owe it to yourself to carefully address the matter with the professional legal counsel of an experienced Georgia family law attorney on your side.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody

Custody in the State of Georgia is separated into legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to who will be making primary decisions on behalf of the children post-divorce. These include:

  • Decisions about where the children will attend school
  • Decisions about the children’s medical treatment and care
  • Decisions about the children’s extracurriculars
  • Decisions about the children’s religious upbringing

Legal custody can be either sole (one parent makes all of these important decisions on his or her own) or joint (both parents make these decisions together). If you are awarded joint legal custody, the court will give one parent final decision-making power for those matters that you are unable to decide together. This does not, however, give the parent with tie-breaking authority the right to make unilateral decisions (a good-faith effort at joint decision-making is required). 

Finally, the decision-making power associated with legal custody can be divided according to category. For example, one of you may take on those decisions that relate to education and religious upbringing, while the other takes on those related to medical care and extracurriculars.

Physical Custody

Physical custody relates to how the children split their time between both parents. Physical custody can also be either sole or joint, or could be primary/secondary. It’s important to note, however, that Georgia courts base all decisions related to child custody on the best interests of the children involved, and because it is generally accepted that children fare better when they maintain a relationship with both parents, it is very rare for a parent to lose all visitation (without a compelling reason for making such a drastic decision). Physical custody can be shared equally or nearly equally, or one parent can become the primary physical custodian while the other has secondary physical custody (with a visitation schedule).

Relevant Factors

The factors that courts take into careful consideration in determining how joint custody arrangements will play out include:

  • The home environment provided by each parent
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The emotional ties each parent has forged with the children
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the children with basics, such as food, clothing, and health care
  • Each parent’s relative stability
  • Each parent’s willingness to participate in fostering an ongoing relationship with the other parent

Speak with an Experienced Georgia Family Law Attorney Today

Custody concerns are major divorce concerns, and the distinguished family law attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland – proudly serving both Forsyth County and Cumming, Georgia – are committed to zealously defending your parental rights in pursuit of child custody arrangements that work for you and your children. We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 for more information today.