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Custody battle brewing for Atlanta-based hip hop star

Another celebrity child custody battle has made the news in Atlanta. Rapper Big Boi, of the Grammy award-winning duo Outkast, has recently made headlines for filing for joint custody of his 12-year-old son in Georgia. The rapper and his wife of 11 years are in the midst of a divorce, and his wife had sought full custody of the child, as well as child support.

While few details of that case have been reported, joint custody is one of the most common types of custody arrangements in Georgia, though joint custody does not always mean a 50/50 split of parenting time.

The hip hop star has sought joint physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody is the time that a parent actually spends with a child. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions about the child's care and upbringing; this refers to things like medical care, religion and education.

Many states are currently moving toward a shared-parenting custody model. Advocacy groups in various states are pushing for shared-parenting laws that award equal parenting time to both parents. Such advocates argue that this arrangement is best for children, except in cases where physical or substance abuse exist. Critics of such legislation believe that child custody disputes need to be handled on a case-by-case basis, with judges having the power to determine which custody arrangements are in the best interests of individual children.

One state, Arkansas, has recently reformed its child custody laws to favor shared-parenting over sole custody. Two other states currently have studies underway to examine whether shared-parenting laws should be put into place.

Here in Georgia, sole custody is actually rare. This does not mean, however, that it is easy for parents to obtain a 50/50 physical custodial split. In some cases, courts might decide that such arrangements lack the stability that children need. Nonetheless, parents can often work together, with the assistance of their attorneys, outside of court to come up with a parenting plan that fits their family's needs. Parents should talk to their family law attorneys about the best way to come up with a suitable child custody arrangement in Georgia.

Source: WRTV Indianapolis, "Big Boi demands joint custody of minor child," Feb. 22, 2014

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014

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