Back in the days when the nuclear family reigned supreme and divorce was only discussed in hushed tones, custody of a couple’s children in Georgia was almost always given to the mother. The idea behind that practice was that children needed their mothers more than their fathers. That’s no longer the case, as research has shown the importance of fathers in parenting.
The trend toward relationships with both parents
One of the biggest concerns of parents getting a divorce is maintaining relationships with their children. While there still is a holdover belief that children should live solely with one parent while the other parent gets visitation, the courts are moving toward recognizing that children need to have quality time with both parents after divorce.
What is custody?
Family law recognizes two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody determines who will make important decisions about medical care, education, etc. The courts favor joint custody, except in certain circumstances. Physical custody indicates with whom the children will live. The courts also favor joint custody here, although time may not be split 50-50. The children’s best interests are always a factor in awarding custody. Awarding custody to only one parent is rare but can occur if one parent:
- Abandons the family
- Is an addict with impaired functioning
- Homeless, incarcerated, or otherwise unable to provide food and shelter
- Has a history of physical or sexual abuse
Having a voice in child custody
Many times, divorcing parents can work out an agreement regarding parenting time that will satisfy both ex-spouses and the courts. However, if you cannot agree on a parenting schedule, the judge overseeing your case becomes the decision-maker, often meaning that neither side will be satisfied with the result.
Sharing parenting after divorce can be challenging, not to mention emotionally difficult for both parents. If you become too emotional about the issue, consider mediation to work out custody and parenting time. Allowing someone who is not emotionally invested and can present the whole picture can result in an acceptable parenting plan for everyone involved. Remember, you’re working toward your children’s best interests.