Child custody is usually one of the top priorities for divorcing parents. Deciding how to split custody can be difficult and time consuming, especially during divorce, which is already an emotionally tumultuous time. You may be wondering if you will lose access to your child, or if your new norm will be dealing with unfair schedules that are difficult to manage.
Georgia family law provides guidance, but you still have a certain level of control over the matter. In many cases, parents can reach an agreeable arrangement while working with their respective counsels.
What is a parenting plan?
Parenting plans are valuable tools that outline how to handle custody. You and your ex must create a parenting plan before attending a child custody hearing. Before a family law judge will approve a parenting plan, you must address the following details:
- A schedule for physical parenting time. This will outline which parent the child will be with and when.
- A holiday and vacation schedule.
- Transportation arrangements for when children spend time with their other parent. You must also include designated drop-off points.
- A contact agreement that outlines how children can contact either parent regardless of whose care they are in.
A family law judge will review your parenting plan and consider it against the best interests of your child. In most cases, judges will approve parenting plans created by parents with the proper legal guidance. Who else, after all, knows a child better than his or her parent?
We could not agree on a parenting plan. What now?
A judge has many factors to consider when deciding custody. He or she will usually listen to both parents' points of view and, depending on the child's age, may also take their opinion into consideration. Ultimately, though, the child's best interests will remain the focal point of the decision.
After considering all relevant factors, a judge will grant either joint or sole custody. Joint physical custody allows both parents to spend approximately equal time with their child, and both may also make important decisions regarding medical care, education and religion. Sole custody gives only one parent that right, with the other usually awarded visitation rights.
I'm worried I won't be able to see my child anymore
Losing access to a child is an understandable concern. Many parents choose to delay filing for divorce out of fear that they will damage their relationship with their child. Having the right kind of advocate on your side can help ease these worries. Guidance from a lawyer experienced in Georgia family law can be essential to securing a child custody arrangement that benefits the child while also preserving parental relations.