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Child Custody

Determining What is in the Best Interest of the Child and Parenting Time Schedules

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Determining Custody

If the parties can not agree, the court looks to the best interest of the child to determine custody. What is in the best interest of the child, however, is often hotly debated.

In these cases, Georgia law provides a list of specific factors that a judge must consider when determining what will best promote the child's welfare and happiness.

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Visitation Plans

Traditional Visitation ("Standard Visitation")

Sunday
Monday
Tuedays
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

Under this plan, that traditionally has been used the most for outlining custody, the primary custodian (A) would have most of the parenting time with the minor child(ren). The secondary custodian (B) would have parenting time from Friday after school (or starting at 6 p.m.) until Sunday at 6pm (or Monday morning at school) every other weekend and dinner(s)/overnight visitation during the off week. The choice between pickups and drop-offs at school v. at 6 pm varies based upon the needs of the parties in each case with a preference towards drop offs at school to avoid conflict that may be caused by an in- person exchange.

  • Less transfers during the school week
  • Allows for work related travel during the week

Extended Traditional

Sunday
Monday
Tuedays
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

Similar to the traditional visitation plans, this format has an every other weekend approach. The extra day allows for the noncustodial parent (B) to have extended visitation with the child(ren). As in the traditional example, pickups and dropoffs can occur either at school or at a designated time. This hybrid of joint visitation and traditional visitation has been growing in popularity over recent years.

  • Allows more visitation time with the non-custodial parent
  • Generally maintains a home base for the child during school

Weekly Exchange (Joint Custody)

Sunday
Monday
Tuedays
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

This custody arrangement has also been popular. Obviously, it's a week on/week off format that requires extended time away from the other parent. As a result, this format is slightly disfavored as of late.

  • The minor child has equal time with each parent.

2/2/5 (also referred to as 2/2/3) (Joint Custody)

Sunday
Monday
Tuedays
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

This plan is a relatively new version of the weekly exchange schedule and provides for a similar 50/50 joint custody arrangement. This plan, however, breaks the monotony of the weekly exchange schedule and provides its own level of certainty for the child(ren) involved. Since each parent has two designated nights for visitation during the week, it allows a parent to schedule day care and extracurricular activites on a consistent basis that was generally prevented under the week on/week off type of schedule. Additional, this plan provides each parent with alternating full weekends with the child.

  • Children don't have to wait whole week to see both parents
  • Great for ensuring a child is able to participate in activites that happen on a consistent day of the week
  • Easier to remember schedule during the week - if your parent time is on Wednesday, it is always on Wednesday.
  • Alternating full weekends with both parents
  • 50/50 Joint Custody

Major Catagories of Child Custody Decisions

While most people usually refer to child custody generally as if it was only one thing, the law looks at child custody in a much more nuanced and detailed way. From a high-end point of view, the court divides custody into two independent items:

Physical Custody
How time is divided with a child

  • The general pattern for who has time with a child.
  • Summer Visitation
  • Holiday Visitation
vs

Legal Custody
Who has final say-so regarding decision related to a child

  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Religion 

Types of Physical Custody

Primary Custody

Primary Custody refers to who has the child the majority of the time. It can range for fifty-one percent to nearly one hundred percent of parenting time with a child.

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Primary Custody

Joint Custody

“Joint physical custody means that physical custody is shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of substantially equal time and contact with both...

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Joint Custody

Split Custody

Split custody is the situation where “there are two or more children of the same parents, where one parent is the custodial parent for at least one child of the parents and...

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Split Custody

Sole Custody

Sole custody refers to a custody arrangement where one parent has been “awarded permanent custody of a child by a court order.” O.C.G.A. § 19-9-6(11). The term sole...

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Sole Custody
Primary Custody Joint Custody Split Custody Sole Custody

Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is a document that defines all child custody matters.  Specifically, it is filed with the court and explains the parties’ agreement (or the court’s order) regarding visitation, legal decision making, transportation and many other topics related to the parties’ children.  Because it is what guides the parties on all post-divorce related matters related to their children, we consider it to be the most important child custody document in Georgia...

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