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What a court considers in deciding child custody

When Georgia parents get a divorce, if they cannot reach a decision about child custody and visitation, they might have to go to court. A judge will take a number of factors into consideration when deciding what is in the best interests of the child.

For example, a judge may consider whether one parent has already been doing the majority of the care-giving. This may be the case in particular if the children are very young since some courts may be more concerned about maintaining consistency for younger children. Another consideration is each parent's preferences. The preferences of older children might be considered as well. Judges will also take notice of a parent's willingness to support the child's relationship with the other parent. Family law courts generally take the position that unless the child is in danger with one parent, it is best for the child to spend time with both parents.

If there is evidence of neglect or abuse by a parent, this may be presented in court. A judge will also want to know whether one parent has made false abuse allegations against the other. Judges will look at the stability children will have in each household and what kind of relationship the child has with each parent among other factors.

Not every divorce involving children means parents must go to court. Even if parents are experiencing a lot of conflict, they might be able to reach a resolution through mediation. Unlike litigation, which can be adversarial, mediation aims to reach a cooperative solution that satisfies both parties. Parents who do have to go into litigation may want to discuss strategies for the custody hearing with an attorney. For example, the parent may want to bring evidence, such as school and medical records, that show the parent's involvement in the child's life.

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