What is the Process of Determining Child Custody Following a Divorce?

small child with parents in the background

Divorce is a challenging time for a couple, especially when children are involved. Many questions may enter a parent’s mind, including what will happen to their kids. It is essential to strive for the best outcome for you and your family. The process of determining child custody following a divorce could be complex, but a capable family law attorney might be able to help alleviate some of your concerns.

The Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody

Before making your custody request, you should distinguish between physical and legal custody options. Physical custody allows your child to live with you, which means taking care of their day-to-day needs. When a child primarily lives with one of the parents all or most of the time, that person is recognized as the primary parent. The other individual would then be referred to as the secondary parent, who will have parenting time. Alternatively, parents may share joint physical custody with the parenting time being equally divided.

Legal custody gives a parent the obligation and freedom to make decisions on behalf of their child. Some of these decisions include the school they attend, medical care, and what religious beliefs are upheld. Similar to physical custody, legal custody is split into sole and joint responsibilities. Joint legal custody is commonly awarded unless one parent is considered incapable of childcare. It is best to consult an attorney to review specific legal rules since they vary by state.

How Are Custody Decisions Made?

The process of determining child custody after a divorce can be settled in two ways. The parents either reach an agreement with informal settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolutions, or a family court judge decides. Most courts will rely on the child’s best interest as their highest priority. A child’s age and the parent’s ability to provide will also be considered.

If a formal divorce action has not been filed, a spouse can ask the court for temporary custody orders to establish visitation and ensure safety and financial needs are met.

Why Do I Need an Attorney for Child Custody Determination?

Not having legal counsel in a child custody determination might put you at a disadvantage, especially if your spouse has an attorney. Having a legal team to support you can help your chances of securing a favorable custody determination.

At Atlanta Divorce Law Group, we understand how complicated and stressful determining child custody can be for the whole family. Our team is here to provide you with information about the process. Contact our office to speak to a team member and find guidance today.


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