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Child Custody Laws in Georgia

Child Custody Laws in Georgia

Child Custody Laws in Georgia: An Overview

Child custody is a legal term that refers to the legal rights and responsibilities of parents regarding their child’s care, upbringing, and well-being. In the state of Georgia, child custody laws are governed by the Georgia Code of Laws and are designed to protect the best interests of the child. Here is an overview of child custody laws in Georgia.

Types of Custody

In Georgia, there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and which parent has physical control of the child.

Joint Custody

In Georgia, joint custody is encouraged, and the state believes that children benefit from the involvement of both parents, even after divorce. Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing decision-making responsibilities, while joint physical custody refers to the child splitting their time between both parents’ homes.

Sole Custody

Sole custody can be granted to one parent if it is deemed in the child’s best interests. It can be either sole legal custody or sole physical custody. In cases where one parent is deemed unfit or has a history of abuse, sole custody is often granted to the other parent.


In cases where one parent has sole custody, the other parent often has visitation rights, which allow them to spend time with the child. The court will determine the visitation schedule based on what is best for the child.

Factors Considered in Custody Cases

When deciding on child custody arrangements, the court will consider a range of factors that are outlined in Georgia state law. Some of these factors include:

• Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s emotional, physical and intellectual needs.

• The child’s relationship with each parent and other significant family members.

• Each parent’s mental and physical health.

• The child’s current living situation and their adjustment to their home, school, and community.

• Each parent’s willingness to encourage a positive and ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent.

Modification of Custody Orders

Custody orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. Examples of significant changes include a parent moving out of state, a change in the child’s needs, or a situation where a parent is no longer able to provide for the child’s needs.


In conclusion, child custody laws in Georgia are designed to protect the best interests of the child while also encouraging the involvement of both parents. Parents seeking custody of their child should be aware of their legal rights and obligations under Georgia law, and they should consider hiring an experienced child custody attorney to help them navigate the legal process.



Over the last ten years, Georgia’s child custody laws and regulations have evolved to prioritize the best interests of children involved in custody disputes. This article provides an overview of key changes in Georgia’s child custody laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023.

2013: Child’s Best Interests Standard

   – Adoption of the child’s best interests standard as the central consideration in custody determinations.

2014: Shared Custody Promotion

   – Promotion of shared custody arrangements to encourage active involvement of both parents.

2015: Parenting Plans Mandate

   – Introduction of mandatory parenting plans outlining custody, visitation, and support arrangements.

2016: Child’s Preferences Consideration

   – Consideration of the child’s preferences in custody decisions based on age and maturity.

2017: Grandparent Visitation Recognition

   – Recognition of grandparent visitation rights in custody proceedings.

2018: Domestic Violence Protections

   – Strengthened provisions to safeguard children from exposure to domestic violence.

2019: Mediation Emphasis

   – Emphasis on mediation as a method to amicably resolve custody disputes.

2020: Virtual Visitation Acknowledgment

   – Acknowledgment of virtual visitation as a means for non-custodial parents to maintain contact.

2021: Military Deployment Consideration

   – Consideration of the impact of military deployment on custody arrangements.

2022: Child Support Alignment

   – Alignment of child custody and child support procedures for consistency.

2023: Relocation Guidelines

   – Introduction of guidelines for parents seeking to relocate with their child, emphasizing stability.

Georgia’s continuous efforts to adapt child custody laws reflect the state’s dedication to the well-being of children and families. Staying informed about these changes is crucial for parents and legal professionals navigating custody matters.

Guide to Child Custody Laws in Georgia

The family court can be difficult to navigate, especially for parents who have not had much experience with court processes.

Understanding child custody laws in Georgia will help reduce your fears and anxieties so that you can begin to come to an agreement with your ex-spouse regarding parenting responsibilities.

This guide will help you understand how child custody laws in Georgia will affect your case, and when judges will rule for each type of custody.

Rights of Children Over 14

In many states, children have no right to decide which parent to live with until they are the age of majority. Minors in Georgia, however, have their voices heard by the court.

Child custody laws in Georgia allow minors 14 and older to choose which parent they would prefer to live with. Children 11 to 13 will be allowed to discuss their wishes with the judge, but the judge may still choose to award custody to the other parent if it seems to be in the best interests of the child.

Parenting Plans and Mediation

In many cases, divorcing parents can work out an agreement as to how to divide their parental responsibilities.

If you can negotiate an arrangement with your ex-spouse that fairly divides your parental responsibilities, you can draft it into a parenting plan.

The court must approve your parenting plan before it is final, but in the vast majority of cases, child custody laws in Georgia give a lot of weight to any parenting plan with involvement from both parents.

If you and your ex-spouse are having difficulty agreeing about one or more issues relating to the division of your parenting responsibilities, the court may order you to attend mediation.

Mediators are specifically allowed by child custody laws in Georgia and can help you to find a parenting plan that meets your needs and the needs of your children.

Sole Custody

Unlike the laws in many states, child custody laws in Georgia do not express a preference for either joint or sole custody.

In many cases, especially if the parents are living far apart or are very antagonistic toward each other, the judge may rule that sole custody is in the best interests of the child.

Under a sole custody arrangement, one parent has responsibility for all major decisions in the child’s life. Typically, visitation will be awarded to the parent who has not been awarded custody.

If the non-custodial parent poses a threat to the child’s well-being, the visitation may be supervised according to child custody laws in Georgia.

Joint Custody

In other cases, the judge may rule that it is in the best interests of the child for parents to split either legal decision-making authority, physical custody of the child, or both.

While custody can in some cases be split exactly equally, this is often impractical for parents. Usually, one parent will be assigned primary custody.

Joint custody is not explicitly preferred under child custody laws in Georgia, but if parenting plans ask for joint custody it will almost always be given.