Determining Child Custody In Georgia
In Georgia, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. Several factors come into play when a case goes to trial and a judge has to make the decision. These include the relationship between each parent and the child, the resources each parent and child have to take care of the child—taking into account the support that would be provided by the other parent—and whether there has been any history of domestic violence or abuse.
Child’s Input On Custody
In Georgia, children aged 14 and above have the right to select the parent they wish to live with. While a judge can override this choice, there’s a presumption in favor of the child’s wishes. For children between the ages of 11 and 14, the judge considers the child’s desires and educational needs when determining custody.
Child’s Appearance In Court
Children occasionally participate in court proceedings, but they typically do not appear in the courtroom itself. Instead, they meet with the judge in a private setting, such as the judge’s chambers or a conference room, alongside the court stenographer, the attorneys for both parties, and a guardian ad litem, if one has been appointed. The judge asks questions, and then the attorneys also have the opportunity to ask questions. This process does not occur in front of the parents.
Changing Custody And Visitation
Custody and visitation arrangements can be altered under certain circumstances. If the decision is based on the child’s wishes, barring a significant incident, the child cannot change their mind for two years. However, if a substantial change in circumstances can be demonstrated, the court can be petitioned to change custody at almost any time. For instance, if a parent attempts suicide or neglects their mental health treatment, emergency custody can be sought, and custody arrangements can be adjusted accordingly.