Living apart from your children is the most difficult aspect of divorce for most parents. Developing a workable parenting plan is challenging even when parents are both committed to respectful co-parenting.
Knowing the law and the factors a judge would consider if they had to impose a co-parenting arrangement can help you reach an agreement. When you first begin discussing divorce, consult a local family attorney for information you need to negotiate a parenting plan.
A Roswell visitation lawyer can answer any questions you have about the process and offer good advice about how to proceed. Armed with sound information, you can develop a plan that will work for you, your spouse, and your children.
In recent years, the language people use when discussing child custody issues has evolved. It is important to understand what is meant when lawyers, judges, and mediators use certain terms.
Legal custody means the right to make important decisions for the child, such as where they go to school, their religion, and the healthcare services they can receive. Sometimes, legal custody is called decision-making authority. Even if the courts give legal custody to one parent, the other parent retains the right to receive information about the child’s health, education, and other crucial matters. A Roswell attorney can ensure you understand the rights and responsibilities of custody and visitation.
The parent the children live with most of the time has physical custody. If their living arrangements and work schedules permit, parents with joint custody might split time with the children 50/50. Even then, one parent will have the primary custodial parent designation. The parent with primary custody uses their address for school enrollment, medical records, and similar purposes.
Parenting time used to be called visitation because traditionally, the parent without physical custody usually only had visits with the children. It is now standard for both parents to have substantial blocks of time where the children stay with them. You can divide parenting time in whatever way works best for you, the children, and the other parent.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 19-9-1 requires parents to submit parenting plans to the court. The plan must be specific about how much time each child spends with each parent, where the children will stay on which days of the week, and who they will be with for holidays and school vacations. The plan must also address transportation issues to and from visits as well as how the parents will resolve disputes between themselves.
Ideally, the parents will agree about the co-parenting arrangements and submit a joint plan. If you and your co-parent cannot agree to a plan, you each submit one to the judge. The judge will review them and select one or create a different plan. Once the judge approves the parenting plan, it is an enforceable court order, and you and your co-parent must abide by it.
At one time, the law favored awarding custody of children to the mother, especially when the children were young. That is no longer true, and the law now requires the judge to award custody of the children based solely on the children’s best interests.
The judge considers multiple factors when making a best-interest determination, including, among other things, the:
Any history of child neglect or abuse, family violence, criminal activity, or substance abuse is likely to influence a decision on custody and visitation.
If you have concerns about your co-parent keeping the children overnight or having visitation in their home, discuss them with a Roswell attorney. Our legal professional can assemble evidence proving your concerns are well-founded and present them to the court. Judges are reluctant to limit a parent’s right to spend time with their children but will do so when there is clear evidence the parent poses a danger to them.
Judges prefer parents to develop their own parenting plans, but that is often easier said than done. Guidance from an experienced legal professional from our firm can be incredibly helpful.
Contact a Roswell visitation lawyer when you and your co-parent begin considering a divorce or separation. Our team can help you negotiate an arrangement that meets your family’s needs. Call the Atlanta Divorce Law Group today.