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Where Does Georgia Rank for Joint Custody?

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Shared or joint custody is becoming a more common custody arrangement for divorced parents across the United States. It’s undeniable that co-parenting has its own set of unique challenges – no matter where you live. At Buckhead Family Law, we have represented many families who have opted for shared  or custody arrangements, and we’ve been able to glean our own opinions on where Georgia ranks for shared custody. But don’t take our word for it! Fortunately, there have also been extensive studies which explored how Georgia ranks when it comes to shared custody and how both the parents and the children fare in these arrangements.

So, let’s take an inside look at how shared custody breaks down from state to state. Parents.com breaks down all the ratings for different states and helps provide valuable insight into why each state ranks where it does. This study used data gathered from the National Parents Organization (NPO), who gave more than half of the states in the US a D+ grade or worse. Definitely not the best news.

This study proved extensive, as it looked at 21 different factors related to each state’s child custody laws. Some of the factors they looked to identify included whether or not the state had statutes that explicitly permitted shared parenting, if there were policies in place to encourage shared parenting, and whether or not there was an express preference for shared parenting. The study defined “shared parenting” as an arrangement where a parent has at least one-third of the time with the child.

Interested in where Georgia fell on the list? Let’s find out!

Where Does Georgia Rank for Shared Custody: The Positives

Well, let’s start with the good news! Georgia ranks above many other states with a C grade when it comes to the realm of shared custody. According to the Parents.com report, Georgia statutes define “joint physical custody” as “substantially equal time and contact with both parents” O.C.G.A. § 19-9-6.

Georgia law expressly encourages that all minor children (those under the age of 18) have “continuing contact with parents and grandparents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child” and encourages “parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after such parents have separated or dissolved their marriage” per O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3. The report views this as a great advantage to the State, as it aims to keep families actively involved in each other’s lives.

What Does This Mean?

It’s important to really break down this information. This organization’s report is simply an overview of the state of Georgia as a whole. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily determine whether or not an individual parent will have an easier or harder time requesting or obtaining a particular custody arrangement in Georgia. The report did find that having equal, shared parenting helps to bolster a child’s wellbeing. It also highlighted some reports on how not having both parents be an active part of a child’s life resulted in some negative impacts on the child. However, every family dynamic is unique, and thus, it all depends on the situation.  Shared or joint custody is not necessarily best for every child and every family.

At Buckhead Family Law, we have seen first-hand how shared custody can smooth out tough situations in certain families and encourage problems in others. The effects of a shared custody arrangement truly depend on the situation, how dedicated the families are, the children themselves, and the final custody agreement. Shared parenting can (and ultimately does) contribute to a child’s mental health in both positive and negative ways.

If you are seeking joint custody in Atlanta, the best thing you can do is find common ground with your ex-spouse and determine ways to arrange custody so everyone understands what the expectations are, what the schedule is, what the rules are, and how to “play nice” for the greatest benefit of the child.

Where Does Georgia Rank for Shared Custody: The Negatives

Now, for the cons of shared custody in Atlanta. This same report notes that Georgia has “no preference for, or presumption of, shared parenting, which includes joint legal custody and shared physical custody for temporary or final orders.” It also notes that Georgia does not require courts to consider “friendly parent” factors in awarding custody to parents. The “friendly parent” is the parent whom the court deems most likely to foster a continuous, healthy relationship with the other parent.

Another interesting point that the study points out is that Georgia is among the least active shared parenting states because it hasn’t introduced any shared parenting bills over the last five year period. The other states included in this group are Delaware, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Clearly, Georgia’s lack of recent activity to foster shared custody arrangements weighed heavily on its “C” ranking.

Are you facing custody litigation and are worried about what this means for your family? You don’t have to fight this battle alone. At Buckhead Family Law, our experienced legal team can help you build a custody agreement that works for your family and ensures you remain an active part of your child’s life. The Atlanta child custody lawyers at Buckhead Family Law are here to assist you with your case and help this be a positive turning point for your family. Schedule a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403.

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