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Joint custody becoming more common

While joint physical custody is still not the norm in Georgia, it is becoming increasingly common. In the past, mothers were almost always granted full custody of their children, and the fathers would receive minimal visitation time. That has changed as society's view of parenting roles have likewise changed.

In the past three decades, courts have increasingly moved towards shared custody arrangements. Custody includes legal custody, which is the ability to make important decisions on behalf of children, including education, health care, and religion. It also includes residential custody. Courts prefer giving the parents joint decision-making unless there are obstacles to doing so. There has also been an increase in unequal shared residential custody and equal shared residential custody.

One study that was conducted by the University of Wisconsin found that 80 percent of women who got divorced in 1980 received sole custody of their children. By 2008, that had dropped to 42 percent. Equally shared residential custody increased during the same time period from 5 percent to 27 percent, and unequally shared residential custody increased from 3 percent to 18 percent. Societal attitudes have also changed, and the role of men as parents is viewed more positively than in the past.

Parents who are getting divorced might benefit from seeking help from experienced family law attorneys who may be able to negotiate shared custody arrangements on their behalf. The attorneys may also work to negotiate related issues on their clients' behalf such as child support, and they can also help clients who have already divorced obtain modifications to or the enforcement of existing parenting and support orders.

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