As a law firm that specializes in family law, we are often asked: “Is Georgia a 50 / 50 custody state?” The answer is somewhat complex, as Georgia law doesn’t automatically grant 50/50 custody. Instead, it focuses on what’s in the best interest of the child.
Let’s take a closer look at custody in the Peach State.
50/50 Custody in Georgia
In Georgia, 50/50 custody, also known as joint physical custody, is not the default arrangement. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. In fact, many parents do successfully negotiate a 50/50 custody schedule.
Once again – it all depends on what is best for the child. Do the parents live near each other? Does the child adjust well to a try 50/50 schedule? If the answer is “no” to any of these or similar questions, then it is likely the judge will assign a primary custodian and a secondary custodian instead of giving perfectly equally physical custody.
50/50 Custody Requirements
To achieve 50/50 custody in Georgia, both parents must be willing and able to cooperate and communicate effectively. The child’s best interests are always paramount, so any arrangement must ensure their health, safety, and happiness.
Joint Physical Custody in Georgia
Joint physical custody refers to a situation where a child spends a significant amount of time with both parents. This doesn’t necessarily mean an exact 50/50 split. The specific schedule can vary based on the child’s needs, the parents’ availability, and other factors.
How to Get Joint Custody in Georgia
Getting joint custody in Georgia involves demonstrating that this arrangement would be in the child’s best interest. Factors such as each parent’s relationship with the child, the ability to provide a stable home, and willingness to facilitate a relationship with the other parent are all considered.
Chances of Father Getting 50/50 Custody
Fathers often wonder about their chances of getting 50/50 custody. In Georgia, the court does not favor either parent based on gender. Instead, decisions are based on the child’s best interests. The court will look at your specific situation and compare it to your child’s specific needs, and make a decision from there that is best for the child.
Custody Laws in Georgia for Unmarried Parents
For unmarried parents, establishing legal paternity is the first step towards gaining custody rights. This is done through a paternity action (brought by the mother) or by a legitimation action (brought by the father). Once paternity is established, the father can request custody or visitation rights. But up until that point, the only right a biological father has is to pay child support to the mother or child’s guardian for the support of the child.
How Far Can a Parent Move with Joint Custody in Georgia?
Relocation can complicate joint custody arrangements. In Georgia, if a parent plans to move more than 50 miles away, they must provide written notice at least 30 days in advance. However, each parenting plan is different and you may have more strict guidelines – so make sure to consult your court ordered parenting plan first, to know your restrictions on notice to the other parent about moving.
Modification of Child Custody in Georgia
If circumstances change significantly, it may be possible to modify the child custody arrangement. However, the parent seeking the modification must show that the change is in the child’s best interests. This usually requires a new court action, called a Petition for Modification.
Georgia Child Custody Laws 2023
As we move into 2023, there have been no major changes to Georgia’s child custody laws. The child’s best interests remain the primary consideration in all custody decisions. To learn more, consult a local family law attorney.
How to Get Custody of a Child Without Going to Court
While court proceedings are often necessary in custody disputes, some parents may be able to reach an agreement through mediation or collaborative law processes. This approach can be less adversarial and more focused on finding a solution that benefits both the child and the parents. However, even if you agree to everything with the other parent, you still must submit the agreement to the judge to sign off on, in order to make it legal and official.
Remember, every situation is unique. If you’re facing a custody issue, it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the process. Custody is important and it’s always about what is best for the child – whether that is 50/50 custody or something different with the parents.