If you are seeking a divorce and have a child (or children) with your spouse, you will need to determine the details of child custody. There are two different types of child custody – physical and legal. Allow us to explain the details of both:
Type 1: Physical Custody
Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives with primarily. In most cases, there are two roles that must be established among the parents – the primary physical custodian and the secondary physical custodian. Via a parenting plan agreement, rules will be established that outline what days each parent will be responsible for the child (if the physical custody is joint).
Type 2: Legal Custody
Legal custody addresses which parent will be responsible for having the final say in important decisions about the child’s upbringing. For example, the primary legal custodian can make the final decision regarding:
- Extracurricular activities
It’s important to know that whoever is chosen as the primary physical custodian does not automatically receive the right to be the primary legal custodian and vice versa. In many cases, both parents can discuss their wishes and determine what’s best for the child. But if there is a standstill in a disagreement, the primary legal custodian will have the final say.
Determining Sole & Joint Custody
Both physical and legal custody can be sole or joint. Joint custody is the most common decision in Georgia courts, as it mandates that both parents must share decision-making authority and time with the child. Even though a divorce is occurring, judges want both mom and dad to be part of the child’s life as long as they are both fit to be parents.
In extreme cases of abuse, addiction, or the like, sole custody may be granted to one parent. This gives one parent all of the decision-making authority and time with the child. Visitation may be granted to the other party when appropriate.