Working out child custody arrangements can be rough for Georgia parents, especially when they are going through a particularly contentious divorce. Some parents are able to work things out themselves or with the help of a divorce mediator. Others, however, may have to have a judge intervene to help work out the child custody issues between them. Family law judges will consider both sides of such a dispute and rule in a manner they feel is in the best interests of the children who are involved.
One arrangement that some Georgia judges will make is that of joint custody. Joint custody can refer to either joint legal custody -- meaning that legal custody is shared between the two parents and they each have the right to make decisions concerning their children's lives -- or joint physical custody. This means that children split their residence between the homes of both parents in an equal manner, or as equally as possible. In some cases, judges will award both types of joint custody in a particular divorce case.
In other cases, a judge may decide that sole child custody is more appropriate. This means that one parent has legal custody of the children and is able to make major life decisions when it comes to raising them. However, sole custody does not mean that the parent with custody can violate the other parent's visitation rights or any co-parenting orders that a judge has set in place.
Whenever Georgia parents are unable to reach an amicable agreement on child custody, it may be appropriate to let a family court step in and make the decision as fairly as possible. In cases where a court order has already been issued and one or both parents feel that the arrangement is no longer working, they may be able to petition the court for a modification. This can help ensure that child custody arrangements can be flexible as one or both parents' life situations change.
Source: Eastern Arizona Courier, "From the Bench: A judge's child custody decisions," Monica Stauffer, Aug. 7, 2013