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Physical custody addresses the parenting time allocation between parents. Georgia law does not mandate any particular amount of parenting time be given to any parent.  In practice, we see variances from none to one hundred percent, with the vast majority of the cases being (broadly speaking) somewhere in the middle.  

What are the major types of physical custody?

  • Primary Custody

    Primary physical custody simply means that the child will reside with that parent the majority of the time – at least 50.1%.  That said, the exact percentage of time spent with the...
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  • Joint Custody

    According to Georgia law regarding child custody, “Joint physical custody means that physical custody is shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of substantially...
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  • 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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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. In a split parenting case...

Primary v. Joint - Physical Custody

Primary Custody

Joint Custody


Often cited as primary benefit of primary custody, it allows for one stable primary home for the child


Concerns that a child does not feel they have a home since they are always bouncing from one house to another


Conventional wisdom has been that a child does better with a stable primary home


Study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that children fare better when they spend time living with both parents. 


The primary custodian has an enhanced opportunity with a child based upon the additional time he or she may have.


Each parent has equal time with the child

Georgia Law

Notably Georgia law does not provide a presumption as to what type of custody arrangement should be the presumed parenting arrangement in any case.

Georgia Law

“It is the express policy of this state to encourage that a child has continuing contact with parents and grandparents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their child after such parents have separated or dissolved their marriage or relationship.”

O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(d).


Based upon our experience a substantial number of judges prefer a primary custodian to be named in a case.  Given the number of cases they see with parents fighting in 50/50 co-parenting situations, several have indicated concerns in court about the ability of parties to get along for the best interest of their children in a joint parenting environment.


There is clearly a growing number of Judges that appear to be using a 50/50 parenting relationhip and argue equally as hard that this is the better situation for a child.  For this reason alone, it is extremely important to consult with an attorney that is familiar with the judges in your county to provide guidance as to their perceptions of your judge's preferences.


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