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Parents may share legal custody in addition to parenting time

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Child Custody And Support

Spouses who are preparing for divorce in Georgia may have minor children still living at home. These couples do not just need to address economic matters when they divorce but must also handle child custody issues as well.

The main priority for many adults during litigated custody proceedings is a desire to secure as much parenting time as possible. They want to see the children regularly, spend holidays together and protect the relationship they have developed. Georgia refers to that as physical custody. The parent with physical custody at a certain time must do their best to meet the needs of the children.

It can be difficult for parents to work out a schedule that is ideal for their family. They may also need to talk about legal custody, which they may have to share with one another in addition to dividing parenting time.

What constitutes legal custody in Georgia?

Legal custody is the authority that a parent has over a child. It gives them the right to make decisions about the child’s schooling, medical care and religious practices. Married couples and those living together typically have to share legal custody. The same is often true of divorced or separated parents subject to a custody order.

What are the potential complications of sharing legal custody?

Parents may find it very difficult to agree with one another about what is best for their children. Oftentimes, judges award parents shared legal custody if they have an arrangement to share physical custody. There is an expectation that the adults should reach agreements on major decisions about the children.

Typically, both parents have the authority to make decisions in an emergency while the children are in their care. They can choose what hospital to seek treatment at after a child gets injured at a park, for example. However, less urgent decisions with long-term implications often require the input of both parents. Co-parents may have a hard time agreeing on what medical care their children should receive or what school they should attend. Some custody orders include provisions granting one adult the final decision-making authority. Other times, parents may need to negotiate difficult decisions as they arise.

In cases where the parents can’t seem to agree with one another, they may need to take their case to family court. A judge could then rule on a specific dispute or possibly modify the custody order to better reflect the best interests of the children and how the parents handle shared custody.

Parents who understand the different aspects of shared child custody in Georgia may find it easier to seek the best custody terms possible. As such, learning more about custody laws in Georgia by seeking legal guidance can benefit those preparing for family court.