Divorcing parents should familiarize themselves with information pertaining to the custody of their minor children before appearing for a hearing on the matter. If the parents are able to discuss the issue of their children’s custody together, they may come to some agreement on many or all aspects, and these agreements may then be presented to the court for approval.
In a divorce case, the judge is allowed to choose who gets custody. If parents want to equally share in making decisions on issues such as their children’s religious teaching and education, joint custody can facilitate such mutual participation. Sole custody gives one parent the legal authority to make all decisions concerning the children. The other parent, called the noncustodial parent, may be given visitation rights but will not be sharing in any decision-making role.
A workable parenting plan should include such details as where the children will spend vacations and holidays, which calendar days the children will be with their mother and which days they will be with their father, and transportation pick-up points when traveling to the other parent. After a judge renders the final decision in a case regarding child custody, the decision will stand for no less than two years before it can be reviewed and potentially modified, unless family circumstances significantly change prior to that.
If a noncustodial parent notices changes in living conditions that seem to be affecting the children’s well-being, it may be possible to file for a change of custody. Small changes might not be enough to convince a judge to issue a new legal decision, but an attorney with family law experience can review and discuss possible avenues that may be used to obtain a custody change.
Source: Georgia.gov, “Learning about Child Custody“, September 28, 2014