Child custody is a legal term regarding guardianship. It is used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent or guardian and a child in that person's care. A judge might award joint physical custody; however, a judge will normally award one parent primary physical custody. Judges often award joint legal custody. The law wants both parents to have equal access to the child's medical and educational information. Courts want both parents involved in major decisions related to the child's upbringing. When one parent is awarded both physical and legal custody, this is called sole custody. The parent with whom the child lives has the authority to make all decisions concerning the child. except for day-to-day decisions while the child is visiting the other parent. The parent who does not get physical custody usually awarded visitation. The court may place restrictions on visitation if it is in the best interest of the child.

If the parents are married, they have equal rights to visitation and custody. If the parents are not married, under Georgia law, only the mother of a child born out of wedlock has custody rights to the child. Parents can agree on which parent shall have custody, but the court ultimately decides what is in the best interest of the child. If the child is 14 or older, the child will have the right to select the parent he or she wants to live with. The child's selection will stand unless the parent so selected is determined not to be in the best interests of the child. In Georgia, grandparents have the right to ask the court for visitation rights. These rights are not automatic and must be granted by the court.

Helpful Links

For more information on child custody, please visit Georgia Legal Aid: What Should I Know About Child Custody?