New Law Re-Thinks Child Custody Decisions

The determination of custody can be one of the most difficult decisions to make when a couple is divorcing. If they are unable to create an arrangement on their own, a court will be asked to determine the custody situation for them. There are many factors to review in coming up with such a determination and a court must consider the child's best interest above all.

Georgians may be interested in a new law in a different state, which is seeking to redefine the terminology and responsibilities typically associated with traditional child custody determinations. Physical custody will be called parenting time, while legal custody will be labeled as legal decision-making authority.

Under the law, courts are charged with creating parenting plans that increased the time each parent has with a child and prevents any gender preference. The court must consider the past, present and future relationship between a parent and a child to determine the parenting plan. The overarching goal is to provide the child with substantial and meaningful contact with each parent unless it will endanger his or her health or well-being. Although the best interests of the child are still used to determine the custody arrangement, providing maximum time with each parent is one of the factors in such a determination.

Nonetheless, when a Georgia court is asked to determine the child custody arrangement, the ultimate determination that must be made is what is in the child's best interests. This determination involves many factors including the stability of the home environment, the wishes of the child and religious and cultural considerations, among others. Based on these factors a court will decide the best custody situation for the child. Typically, one of the parents will be granted physical custody, meaning the child will live with them, while the other parent will have visitation rights. The non-custodial parent will retain legal custody along with the custodial parent, meaning they both have a say in decisions regarding the child's health, education and well-being.

Source: Havasu News, "Divorced-parenting responsibilities redefined," Dec. 30, 2012

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