The best interest of the child is used to decide custody, where the children live, what their parenting time schedule is with both parents, as well as which parent makes choices on medical education, extracurricular activities, and religion for the children. However, the best interest of the child standard is an extremely broad and often subjective determination, which is what makes child custody cases so difficult.

A child custody case can have very different outcomes depending on which judge it is presented to, which makes determining the best interests of the child in Atlanta custody cases especially complicated. For this reason, it’s important to have an attorney who knows the county and local judges before initiating custody litigation.

How is the Best Interest of the Child Determined in Atlanta?

There is a never-ending list of factors and circumstances in a child’s life that can affect their welfare. While each judge may determine a child’s best interests differently, the court generally considers how the kids are doing educationally, different school districts, potential commute times to school, and what schools are ranked best.

They will also look at medical treatment, any special medical needs of the child, and which parent is most capable of meeting those needs. The relationships between the children and each parent can also impact a judge’s decision on the best interests of the kids.

Parents’ opinions about what is in the children’s best interest must also be considered. Ideally, parents can sit down with each other – either through mediation or with their attorneys – and come to an agreement on what arrangement would be in the best interest of their children.

This would negate the need for a guardian ad litem or judge to make this determination, because parents are the ones who are best equipped to determine what is best for their kids. Otherwise, they must leave custody decisions to strangers who have their own opinions and biases.

Maintaining Custody

Our well-versed Atlanta lawyers can help you demonstrate that maintaining custody of your children would be in their best interests. Your attorney can come up with a strategy on your behalf to prove your ability to care for your children to the judge. Knowing what a particular judge typically rules in certain situations can be very advantageous. Our team can help determine the important facts that the presiding judge wants to hear and which ones they don’t want to hear.

The Impact of Children’s Preferences

It’s not uncommon for the child in an Atlanta custody case to want something other than what is decided in their best interests. Prior to the age of 11, the court cannot even consider a child’s opinions because young kids simply don’t know what is in their best interest. For example, a young child might want to stay with the parent who lets them stay up all night and miss school, but that arrangement would not serve their best interests.

It isn’t until the age of 14 that a child’s preference holds weight in the court. Typically, if a 14-year-old elects to live with one parent, that is usually what ends up happening. While it’s rare for a judge to grant custody to a parent with whom the child does not want to live, it can and does happen if the tribunal determines that doing so would be in the child’s best interest.

Changes over Time

A custody arrangement that serves the child’s best interests can change over time. Circumstances and people change, and the child’s needs may change accordingly. For instance, if two parents with joint physical custody both live within 10 minutes of the child’s school, but then one parent moves two hours away, the commute for the child is no longer reasonable. This means that if both parents are responsible for getting the child to school on school days, the parenting time arrangement no longer meets the child’s best interests.

If you believe that your existing custody order does not serve your child’s best interests, consider reaching out to our skilled legal team for professional advocacy during your case. Alternatively, we can also help you establish to the court that maintaining your current parenting time schedule would be in your child’s best interests. To learn more about how the courts decide the best interests of the child in Atlanta custody cases, call our intake team today.

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Atlanta Divorce Law Group

Sara Khaki
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