A Child’s Best Interests: The Process of Determining Custody and Visitation

For many parents, the decision to divorce is made even more difficult because of the fear of losing their everyday interactions with their children.

In Georgia, there is no established formula that a judge uses in order to make decisions about a child’s physical custody and parental visitation, leaving separated parents with mounting uncertainty as to how the decisions will be made. However, there are specific considerations a judge will review when making decisions about custody and visitation. Each custody case is reviewed on its own merits, but by understanding these core considerations, you and your family law attorney can strategize about how to best present your case.

Child Assessment – Understanding your child or children is an integral step in deciding what is in his or her best interests. In the child assessment, the judge will consider circumstances such as age, gender, physical and mental health, and daily routine. Your child’s role in the decision increases significantly if he or she is over the age of 14.

Parental Compatibility – While this is a broad term that can be interpreted quite differently from courtroom to courtroom, it deals with the interaction between the child and the parent. Emotional compatibility looks at whether there is a particularly strong emotional bond between the child and one parent over the other. Discipline compatibility looks at whether the child behaves better with one parent or if one parent has a more established, stable, or effective discipline structure than the other.

Continuity and Stability – While these are also broad terms, the court will take issues of continuity and stability into consideration. This may mean the consistency of a child’s lifestyle, including living in the same home, attending the same school, and participating on the same sports teams. It may also mean a parent’s stability, such as whether he or she has an established history in one home or moves often. Most often, the courts look at a combination of the two.

Parental Cooperation – When emotions are running high, it’s common for one parent to let fear and frustration drive an uncooperative mentality. Through our long history of child custody and visitation cases, we’ve often seen judges awarding custody to the more cooperative parent.

Your Child’s Best Interests – The goal of every child custody and visitation case is to protect the child’s best interests. By working with your attorney to address each of these key considerations, you will be able to better understand and then present your beliefs on what is right for your child.

Legal Representation for Issues of Child Custody and Visitation in Georgia

At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.