The Nelson Law Group

Understanding Georgia’s Approach to Child Custody During Divorce

By Pierce Blitch

Divorce is not just about two people going their separate ways; it’s also about ensuring the wellbeing of children caught in the middle. In Georgia, the process of determining custody can often become a battleground for parents. However, understanding the court’s approach can help you navigate this sensitive area with a clearer mindset and a focus on what truly matters—your children’s future.

The Heart of the Matter: Child-Centric Custody Decisions

Georgia’s family courts urge divorcing parents to actively participate in the crafting of a parenting plan before stepping into the courtroom. This proactive approach involves settling pivotal issues like living arrangements and visitation schedules beforehand. A well-thought-out plan presented to the court usually needs only to be reviewed and approved, streamlining the process considerably.
However, if cooperation falters, and consensus remains out of reach, each parent will have the opportunity to propose their preferred outcomes. Here, the courts step in to establish the crucial terms of child custody.

Judges Focus on Children’s Best Interests, Not Parental Preferences

Amid the emotional whirlwind of a divorce, it’s easy for parents to become entangled in their own desires or grievances. This mindset can cloud the real issue at hand—the impact of the separation on the children. The courts aim to shield children from becoming collateral damage in these conflicts, prioritizing their needs above all.

The guiding principle in custody decisions is: What is in the best interests of the children? the welfare of the children. Judges are tasked with considering what will serve the best interests of the child in every facet of the custody arrangement. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(3) provides a long list of factors that Judges are required to consider in determining what is in the best interest of the child. This focus encourages parents to rise above personal battles and collaborate to create a nurturing environment post-divorce. The full list of factors in O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(3) are listed below.

“In determining the best interests of the child, the judge may consider any relevant factor including, but not limited to:

(A) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;

(B) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and stepsiblings and the residence of such other children;
(C) The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child;
(D) Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;
(E) The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent;
(F) The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;
(G) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
(H) The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child;
(I) The mental and physical health of each parent, except to the extent as provided in Code Section 30-4-5 and this paragraph and such factors as provided in Code Section 15-11-26;
(J) Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
(K) Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;
(L) The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;
(M) Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;
(N) The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child;
(O) Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;
(P) Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent; and
(Q) Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent.”

Aligning Your Strategy with Court Expectations

Embracing the court’s child-first perspective can significantly influence your approach to custody discussions. By aligning your strategy with the expectations of the courts, you can demonstrate your commitment to the responsible and challenging aspects of parenting post-divorce. Showing that you prioritize your children’s needs can not only facilitate a smoother legal process but also pave the way for a healthier adjustment for your family moving forward.

While divorce marks the end of a marital relationship, it also heralds the beginning of a new phase of parental responsibilities. By focusing on creating a supportive environment for your children, you can turn a potentially negative experience into a proactive journey towards healing and growth.



We fight for you, and we don’t back down. Every family law case has potentially life-altering consequences. We don’t hold back on providing our clients with the best possible representation. At The Nelson Law Group, we understand the emotional and financial toll a family law case can take. If you, a family member, or a close friend are facing a divorce, child custody dispute, or any other family law issue, contact The Nelson Law Group today at 706-434-8770 or visit us at 7004 Evans Town Center Blvd., Third Floor, Evans, Georgia 30809 to discuss your unique case and our dedicated family law strategies with one of our compassionate and experienced attorneys.

DISCLAIMER: The content on this site is offered solely for informational purposes and might not represent the current law in your jurisdiction. None of the details provided here should be interpreted as legal advice from The Nelson Law Group or from the individual writer. Additionally, it is not meant to replace professional legal advice. Readers should not base their actions or decisions to abstain from actions solely on the information found in or available through this site. Instead, they should seek tailored legal or other expert counsel regarding their specific situation from an attorney or other professional authorized to practice in the reader’s state, nation, or other relevant licensing area.
Categories: Child Custody, Divorce