In a child custody case or in a divorce, it can be tough to see the difference between what you want and what is best for the growth and development of your child. However, the Court’s goal is to ensure that the child’s best interests are always at the forefront of every legal decision. Showing the Court that time spent with you will be the best environment for your child is a huge part of winning your child custody case.

The Basics: What Is Child Custody?

The term “custody” is used to describe both legal and physical custody. When the average person thinks of custody, physical custody is almost always what comes to mind first. Physical custody is exactly as it sounds—the child is physically with one parent or another.

The other type of custody is “legal” custody. This type of custody is intertwined with physical custody, but it is not quite the same concept. Legal custody allows a parent to make vital decisions regarding raising the child. These could include things like:

  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Healthcare
  • Religion

In many situations, parents will share physical custody, legal custody, or both. If one parent has primary physical custody, then the other parent will almost always have some scheduled parenting time with the child as well. This parenting time is often referred to as “visitation,” but that term is no longer used under Georgia law.

Scheduled visits are developed as part of a parenting plan. Parents can plan things like holiday visits, where the child will go after school, extracurricular activities, and a lot more.

The Best Interests of the Child

Georgia courts use the “best interests of the child” standard when making custody decisions. Georgia does not assume that one parent should have custody of the child because of his or her gender, for example.

Georgia also allows children over the age of 14 to have a say in where they would like to live. While the Court does not have to honor that decision, what the child wants plays a role in the decision-making process.

Parenting Time Schedules

Developing a parenting time schedule is perhaps the most difficult part of a shared custody case. Parenting time needs to consider each parents’ schedules, holidays, education, and a lot more. Every plan is different because it takes into account the calendars and values of the family unit as a whole.

Even though parents develop schedules as part of their custody case, they are subject to change. Plans change, schedules are altered, and emergencies crop up. Your parenting plan will have to address all these issues as they occur.

Getting Legal Help with Your Parenting Plan

Having the experience of an family law attorney can help a great deal with your child custody case. Even if you know you want shared custody, having a child custody lawyer help you develop a plan will increase the chances that the court will approve your agreement. Learn more about how Porchlight can help by scheduling an appointment today.

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