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Physical Custody

Time with your child is sacred, understand your options

what is physical custody?

What is Physical Custody?

In Georgia, physical custody is a broad phrase that refers to how time with a minor child is allocated between two parents. The range of physical custody a parent can receive ranges from none to 100% of the time. In the overwhelming number of cases, however, physical custody is usually split between the parents in some manner.

Georgia law does not mandate or even have a legal presumption that any particular amount of time is given to one parent. That said, as a general rule and assuming the safety of the child is not in issue, courts tend to favor a custody arrangement that enables a child to develop a relationship with both parents.

How is Child Custody Determined?

Child Custody is determined by what is in the best interest of the child.  There are a number of factors a court considers when making that determination.  

What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

Legal Custody

Although many people talk about custody as if it meant just one thing, custody of a child has two components. Physical custody refers to the time each parent has with their child. Legal custody instead refers to the decision making each parent has regarding their child.

Physical Custody

Comparing the primary types of physical custody

Joint Custody

  • A child is with each parent a roughly equal amount of time
  • Enables each parent to develop a relationship with the child


  • A child is with one parent more than 50% of the time
  • Provides a home base for a child

Sole Custody

  • A child is with one parent almost exclusively
  • Usually used when safety issues are of concern with the non-custodian parent

What is Split Custody?

Split parenting or 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 the other parent is the custodial parent for at least one other child of the parents.

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