Child Custody and Visitation

Protecting parent’s rights.

There are several actions available for determining the custody of minor children: divorce action, alimony action, habeas corpus proceeding, change of custody proceeding, parens patriae action, and deprivation action in juvenile court, and certain guardianship proceedings in the probate court.

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The fundamental concern of Georgia’s legal system in child custody is “what is in the best interest of the minor child.”

There are two aspects to child custody: Legal Custody and Physical Custody.

Developing a custody plan, often referred to as a “Parenting Plan,” can be a challenge for separated or divorcing parents.  Parents naturally have their own parental interests in mind and may also have potentially differing definitions of their child’s best interest.  Parenting Plans demand careful consideration of the needs of a child balanced with the practicalities of parenting.

The attorneys at Alford & Burkhart LLC inform their clients of available parental rights, advise clients about various custody and visitation arrangements, and will advocate on a client’s behalf in developing a Parenting Plan through negotiations, mediation, or litigation, if necessary.

Can Parenting Plans/Visitation be Modified and Changed?   Yes.

Definitions of Child Custody Terms:

Legal Custody

The right and responsibility of a parent to make major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.

Physical Custody

The right of the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time.

Custodial Parent

The parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time.

Noncustodial Parent

The parent with whom the child does not live with the majority of the time.

Sole Custody

When one parent exclusively has both physical and legal custody of a child.

Joint Legal Custody

Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious training; provided, however, that the judge may designate one parent to have sole power to make certain decisions while both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for other decisions.

Joint Physical Custody

Physical custody is shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of substantially equal time and contact with both parents.

Visitation

The rights to “parenting time” allotted to a noncustodial parent.

Parenting Plan

A document that designates the legal custody and physical custody of the child, including visitation schedules.  Parenting Plans may be agreed to by parents or created and ordered by a court.  Where there is joint physical custody or visitation of a child, the Parenting Plan will usually very specifically lay out the terms of the time the child spends with each parent.  For example, Parenting Plans typically include a determination of the holidays that will be spent with the custodial parent and with the noncustodial parent.