One of the most important and delicate aspects of finalizing a divorce is settling child custody. If it is necessary for you to attend a child custody hearing in Georgia, it is helpful to understand what will occur at the hearing and how to prepare.
If it is at all possible, the state of Georgia recommends that you and your ex-partner sit down together and craft a parenting plan. This involves negotiation over how much time your children will spend with each parent, and what will happen over family holidays. Additionally, it is a good idea to agree on how pick-ups and drop-offs work when custody is transferred between parents.
At the actual child custody hearing, the judge will operate with the child’s best interests in mind, not those of the parents. The judge will listen impartially to both you and your ex-partner before making a decision that the judge believes will best benefit the child. Once this decision is made, it can not be reversed or changed unless a significant change in a family situation occurs.
Judges may decide to grant sole custody, where one parent is legally in charge of the child and is either the primary or sole residence of the child, or joint custody. Joint custody means that both parents actively participate in raising the child and both can exercise legal authority as guardians. The judge may also award visitation rights for a non-custodial parent, or choose not to award them.
This information is given to help assist you in preparing for a child custody hearing, but should not be interpreted as legal advice.