Do Children Have a Say in Child Custody Arrangements?

two little girls standing on a bridge
Jun 30, 2022 | Sara Khaki

Divorce can be an emotional and exhausting ordeal that could leave you feeling unsure about the future. There are many things that must be considered when separating from your spouse, like who will keep the family home or how the finances will be handled.

Throughout this challenging time, it is important to realize that you may not be the only one struggling with this change. Divorce can also be traumatizing to children, and they often do not understand why their parents are leaving one another.

Taking the time to learn if your children have a say in child custody arrangements can be helpful to both of you when trying to move forward. Enlisting the guidance of an earnest child custody lawyer is an essential initial step.

Types of Child Custody

Georgia primarily recognizes two types of child custody– physical and legal. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. This type of custody can either be shared or could be awarded to one parent solely, depending on the details of the divorce.

Legal custody, on the other hand, gives the chosen parent the ability to make impactful decisions in the child’s life. This can range from decisions on medical treatments, and religious preferences, to the type of education the child receives. Similar to physical custody, legal custody can be shared equally between the parents or granted exclusively to one parent.

The Child’s Level of Influence

A child below a certain age cannot make the executive decision on who they will live with in a custody arrangement. However, this is not to say children do not have any influence in these cases. Specifically, in Georgia, the child can communicate their preference and reasoning if they are at least 11 years old. While this will not guarantee a particular outcome, the judge will consider it highly, among other factors.

This influence increases at the age of 14 when a child can make an election stating their desired living arrangements and that is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. This does not exclude the other parent from potentially being granted visitation or shared legal custody.

Contact Us if Your Child Has a Preference in a Custody Arrangement

Every child deserves to have a comfortable and happy life. Navigating whether or not children will have a say in your child custody arrangements can be stressful and confusing, but you do not have to figure it out on your own. Take some time and reach out today to learn how our team might be able to help.

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