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In Georgia, courts must consider the best interests of the children when addressing and determining child custody and visitation matters. This standard requires the court to weigh many factors such as historical parenting roles, the age of the children, the health of the children, the emotional and physical health of the parents, the level of cooperation or animosity between the parents, and the desires of the children depending on their age and maturity.

Georgia distinguishes between “physical” and “legal” custody – generally, “legal” custody involves the responsibility for making major decisions (medical, educational, religious, etc.) on behalf of the children and “physical” custody is simply the parenting time arrangement. The labels assigned or used to describe the “physical” and “legal” custody arrangements are often important. Most parents have joint “legal” custody with one parent having the final decision making authority for certain major decisions. The arrangements and terms used for “physical” custody are varied - “joint physical custody” exists when each parent has roughly one-half of the parenting time with the children, however more commonly one parent is the primary physical custodian of the children with the other parent having secondary physical custody (or visitation) with the children.

If the parents cannot reach an agreement as to the appropriate parenting arrangement, then the court process may involve a psychologist performing a custodial evaluation of the parents and maybe the children, the appointment of an attorney to represent the interests of the children called a Guardian ad litem, and many other possible processes. 

Schwarz Family Law can assist you with all aspects of custody and visitation determinations, whether through negotiations or litigation. We have extensive experience negotiating and litigating “physical” and “legal” custody arrangements and Barry Schwarz is a trained mediator, arbitrator, and Guardian ad litem bringing substantial knowledge and experience to all aspects of custody and visitation matters.

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