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The difference in legal and physical custody in Georgia

Parents who have a child together generally want the best for their offspring. In a perfect world, they would always agree on what constitutes 'the best' and what steps need to be taken so that the child attains it. Unfortunately, in the real world, parents often have differing ideas about how a child needs to be raised, and while this can cause friction during a marriage or other relationship, it may really become a problem if the parents divorce or split up.

Because of this, the State of Georgia must sometimes be the arbiter of what is best for the child through the use of the family court system. In a child custody case, either the parents will agree upon a parenting plan that is acceptable to both of them, or they will need to go to trial so that a judge can make the decision. If the case is tried, the court will listen to the arguments of both sides and make a decision it believes in the best interest of the child.

When it does this, it will need to factor in the two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the parent's right to make the determinations for a child that a minor cannot make for him or herself. Decisions about schooling, courses of medical treatment and other legal decisions that children are not competent to make would fall under this category. Physical custody, on the other hand, is simply the decision as to where the child will reside.

It is important to note that while these concepts may be related, they are decided separately. That is, a judge could award joint legal custody and at the same time, and sole residential custody to one parent, though the other parent may receive visitation rights. For Georgia parents involved in child custody disputes, the details regarding how this is decided will vary based upon individual circumstances. Those with questions may wish to consider consulting an experienced family attorney.

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