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What are the "best interests of a child" in Georgia?

When looking at family law issues in Georgia and most other states, you will often see the phrase "best interests of the child." This is a very important idea for most issues that touch on the topic of child custody. While it is a broad concept, most states, like Georgia, have a list of statutory factors that a judge must consult when making a determination in a child custody dispute.

If you have begun the divorce process and have children, you will need to put together a parenting plan with your spouse. This will govern the legal and physical custody of your children until they become adults or a modification is made by a court. Ideally, if you and your spouse can come to an agreement, your parenting plan can be created with little input from the court.

However, if you and your spouse disagree, the court will have to determine if sole custody, joint custody, joint legal custody or joint physical custody will be granted, and what the terms of that arrangement will be.

The court will use the best interests of the child to guide its determination and this will include 17 statutory factors from O.C.G.A. 19-9-3, and may include additional factors.

These factors cover such items as "love and affection" between a parent and child, the ability of the parents to provide an environment that promotes the "nurturance and safety" of the children, the stability of the child's environment, the parent's health, their employment schedule, and the ability of the parents to get along encourage the other parent's parent-child relationship.

This list is long and very broad, meaning that you and your attorney need to provide detailed, compelling fact-based arguments to support you goals when submitting a parenting time plan.

The better you support each point with facts, the better your chances of child custody plan you want for your children.

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