The divorce process is challenging, especially with issues of child custody in the mix. In Georgia, courts take the preference of the child into account when making child custody decisions.
How Old Does a Child Need to Be to Choose Which Parent They Live With?
GA Code § 19-9-3(5) states that children 14 years old or older may choose which parent they want to live with primarily. The child will need to make a decision, then sign an Affidavit of Custody Election and submit it to the court.
Will Georgia Courts Consider the Preference of Children Younger than 14?
Children between ages 11-14 may voice their opinions on custody arrangements per GA Code § 19-9-3(6). The court may consider the children’s opinions when determining which parent will have primary custody. However, the court isn’t required to make the decision that reflects the child’s wishes; children in this age range don’t have final say on where they live, and it is up to the court to make a decision with the child’s best interest at heart.
Will the court always grant the child’s wishes at 14? Not all the time. The court has the right to go against the child’s wishes in order to protect their best interests.
GA Code § 19-9-3(3) states that a judge will consider a myriad of factors when determining the best interests of the child, including but not limited to:
- Parent’s home environment
- Parent’s capacity to provide for the child’s needs
- Parent’s capacity to maintain stability in the child’s life
- Parent’s mental and physical health
- Parent’s involvement in the child’s daily activities
- Any evidence of substance abuse, family violence, or child abuse
- Emotional ties existing between the child and each parent
Are You a Parent Facing Divorce in Georgia?
If you are facing a divorce or child custody dispute in Georgia you should contact an experienced family law attorney.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Family law attorney Trinity Hundredmark has over a decade of experience representing clients divorcing in Georgia.
For more information, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.