Most people are at least cursorily aware that the Georgia courts will typically either order shared or sole custody in modern divorce cases. The modern trend is toward fully shared custody, with both parents playing an active, ongoing role in the lives of the kids.
However, the courts don’t just try to evenly split custody, but rather they attempt to reach a custody determination that seems to be in the best interest of the children. There are certain factors that can influence the way a court rules and increase the likelihood of one parent receiving sole custody with the other only having visitation.
The age of the child matters. Most children who are 14 or older can make their own decision about where they want to live. For younger children, the courts will make a determination on their behalf.
The courts want a stable, safe environment for children
When one spouse files for divorce, the other may not have any plans in place to protect them from the sudden need to move out of the marital home and potentially pay child support at the same time. That could mean that one parent winds up living on a friend’s couch or in another temporary living situation, such as at a motel with weekly room rentals.
If one parent isn’t in a stable position, the courts may not give them fully shared custody, instead allowing visitation until their life returns to normal. When determining how to split custody, the courts will also look at documented cases of:
- Spousal or child abuse
- Issues related to mental health, substance abuse and other forms of addiction
- A history of neglect or abandonment
Thankfully, the potential always exists for either parent to see commodification when their life circumstances change and allow them to play a more significant role in the lives of the children.