Factors for Determining Child Custody
Will my Job Affect my Ability to Obtain Custody?
Parents are often forced to perform the balancing act of juggling their work and travel schedules along with spending time with their children. This practical reality can often affect the amount of time a parent can realistically give to their children. Parents who have erratic or very demanding work schedules, parents who must travel frequently for work, or parents who engage in work in specific industries, like the entertainment industry, may worry that their employment may affect a court's custody determination. They may wonder if they have child care or daycare options and whether using those options will affect their chances at child custody or negatively affect their time with their children.
Courts Consider Parental Employment & Work Travel
Parental employment, work schedules and travel are one of the factors considered by the judge when making a child custody determination.
Nevertheless, it is important for parents in these situations to understand that a judge will not make custody decisions based upon one factor alone. Georgia courts must take several factors under consideration before making a child custody determination. See O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3.
How is Child Custody Determined?
Parental Employment Factors
Capacity to Provide Care
The Home Environment
Family Unit & Support System
The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent.
The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors.
The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent's support systems within the community to benefit the child.
Each parent's involvement, or lack thereof, in the child's education, social, and extracurricular activities.
Each parent's employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child.
Practical Reality of Parental Employment
While employment and work-related travel are just a part of the bigger picture that the judge considers, it is still important to take your travel and work schedule into practical account and think seriously about which time and visitation schedule accommodates your children's needs while meeting your professional responsibilities. Take into account your childcare and daycare needs. Once your case is finalized, the judge will sign off on a parenting time/visitation schedule for your family. This schedule will govern your time with your children going forward. It's worth the effort to think about what this schedule would look like beforehand.
Create A Plan That Works For You
One of the keys to crafting a solid parenting plan and visitation schedule is to be honest about your travel and work schedule. If you are traveling out of town, work nights, etc. the practical limitations you face of not being there obviously limit your ability to exercise parenting time during these periods. Judges are sometimes hesitant to award majority time to a parent that is not able to be around all the time due to work and travel. Discuss visitation plans with your attorney and take a look at a few sample ones linked below. While you may find these sample plans useful, recognize that you and your lawyer have the ability to customize a workable plan for you and your children.