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What is in 'the best interest of the child' in Georgia custody?

We have previously discussed the various types of custody that a family court in Georgia can award to parents who are ending a marriage or otherwise separating their places of residence. The award of custody can be one of the most important decisions a court can make, and is often the issue at the forefront of both parents' minds during the proceeding. So, what is the most important factor when it comes to deciding who gets custody?

As some Georgia residents may know, the basic standard a court will look at in a custody proceeding is that of the "best interests of the child." While this may be all well and good, what exactly does this mean in practice? Well, there is no hard and fast definition that will work in all cases, and this is by design. Because every family's situation is different, judges need some discretion in hearing the facts of each case and determining what the proper result should be. However, this does not mean that there is no way to think beforehand about what could happen at a custody hearing.

There are a few things the court might take into consideration when determining child custody. For example, evidence of any kind of abuse in a household, whether it be physical, psychological, emotional or sexual, and whether it is directed at the children or at the domestic partner may be considered. Also, the abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs can affect a custody decision. But beyond those cases, there are some other factors that may be thought to play a part in such a decision. These may be the kinds of things some people see as common-sense considerations, such as who does the lion's share of caring for the child. For example, who cares for the child when he or she is sick, or takes the child to the doctor? Who feeds the child and takes care of any hygiene the child needs help with such as washing or brushing of teeth? Who shuttles the child to activities and deals with issues at school, or helps with homework? Who often spends time outside the home when not working to provide for the family?

The above are simply a few of the potential considerations that can be looked at by a court when determining what is in a child's best interest. Because every case is different, and the evidence required will change, it may be a good idea for those facing a custody hearing to consider contacting a Georgia family law attorney.

Source:, "Child Custody in Georgia," Accessed March 29, 2016

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