Factors In Determining Custody
We do have a statute that addresses custody in Georgia. There are many, many factors that the court looks at. At the end of the day, it’s what’s at the best interest of the child. The judge has to look at the father and the mother and decide which parent would be the better, what we call primary physical custodian. There is a wealth of knowledge that the court needs to come into before they can make that decision. It doesn’t have to do just with where you live or where you work. It has to do with emotional ties to which parents or possibly history of issues with the child, discipline, certainly environmental factors. Are there other children in the home? Does one of the parents have children from another marriage? That kind of thing.
There’s not a right or wrong answer I think to custody. It just depends on each case. The judge has to sit there and decide which parents should be the primary physical custodian, which means which parent should the child live with most of the time. We do offer joint physical custody in Georgia where a child can live approximately equal time with each parent, but typically our judges like to have one parent serve as the primary physical custodian and have the other one be the visiting parent or the non-physical custodian.
Our judges like to have consistency in these children’s lives, especially if they’re school age. They like them to be in the same place and in the same house and in the same bed every night doing homework, going to bed at a good time, being ready for school the next day. It’s much easier on a weekend for a child to visit with a parent than to try to switch midweek when they’ve got busy schedules, schoolwork, sports, extracurriculars, all kinds of things. typically speaking, the judge is mandated by law to look at the best interest of the child to decide where she or he should live, but again, they take into account all things as a total circumstance analysis the judge has to go through in order to make that determination.