Joint custody is a situation in which a court has ruled that the guardianship and care of a child following a divorce should involve both parents. In Georgia cases, the family courts distinguish between shared physical custody and shared legal custody. Physical custody is about where the child spends his or her time. Legal custody is about how the parents make important decisions about how the child is raised. Issues like religion, health care and education are decisions for both parents in a shared legal custody circumstance.

Once a shared physical custody order has been issued, it can take some time for the parents to figure out the logistics of coordinating schedules, sharing holidays and moving the kids around. Studies have shown that shared custody arrangements work better when the parents cooperate with one another. When it comes to deciding how custody will be divided, it is best to consider the children’s personalities and ages, the family’s schedule, the parents’ social and career commitments and the child care setup.

For people in Georgia trying to get the most out of a co-parenting arrangement, it is important to create a custody schedule and to not speak ill of the other parent. Badmouthing the other parent to the child can often be internalized by the child. The child will react to what the parent’s say about each other and they will also think it about themselves.

Parents who are considering or going through a divorce in Georgia may want to meet with a lawyer to learn about custody rights. A lawyer who has experience practicing family law may be able to help by discussing the goals and wishes of the parents and creating a child custody plan that is acceptable by the court. A lawyer might draft the petition for divorce to initiate proceedings or argue on the client’s behalf during child custody hearings.