Georgia Child Custody Law

Often in a Georgia contested divorce, the most complex and contested issue between the parents revolves around child custody.  Recognizing the important role that both parents play in the lives of their children, Georgia child custody law ensures that your children continue to have contact with any parent who has shown the ability to act in the children’s best interests.

Georgia encourages parents to “share in the rights and responsibilities of raising” their children after a divorce or the dissolution of their relationship. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(d).

Types of Child Custody in Georgia

Broadly speaking, child custody is broken up into two major categories, physical custody and legal custody, (in other words, time and say so).  Physical custody deals with which parent the child will reside with.  Legal custody addresses which parent will have final say so on various matters related to a child’s upbringing such as medical, educational, and religious decisions.

How Georgia Superior Courts Determine Child Custody

The determination of physical custody may be made by agreement of the parties (subject to court approval) or directly by the judge presiding over the case.  Regardless of how the determination is made, the best interests of the child or children involved is considered paramount by the court before any physical custody arrangement is ordered or approved by the court.

Of course, in many cases what is in the best interest of the child or children involved is not always agreed. In these types of contested custody cases, we often turn to guardian ad litems (GALs) and other qualified professionals for guidance.

In addition, depending upon a child’s age, we may also lake into consideration the desire of the children involved (usually through a child’s election) in making a final determination of custody.

Visitation Plans and Visitation Rights

For the non-custodial parent, some schedule of visitation is recommended to ensure that a child has access to both parents.  Any case in Georgia involving child custody must have a formal parenting plan incorporated into the final decree. O.C.G.A. §19-9-1. In order for a court to incorporate a parenting plan, the plan must meet several requirements.

We discuss in detail some of the more common custody plans and address unique issues like supervised visitation and parenting plans on our parenting plans page.

Contact Atlanta divorce lawyer Nancy Ghertner today at (770) 980-9096 and learn how she has helped many parents over a 30-year legal career. Nancy cares about her clients, and she will explain what you need to do next. This can be a very difficult time and emotions run high. Now is the time to be objective and ensure that your rights as a parent are honored.


“During various life events, I had to seek the counsel of an attorney.  To this date, Nancy Ghertner is the most impressive attorney that I have ever hired.  Nancy is diligent at securing the best results for her clients, professionally personable, intelligent, ethical, and reasonably priced for her services. But, most of all, I felt that she very sincerely personally cares about her clients. If I ever need to seek legal counsel again, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call Nancy as many of my friends and family members have done”

S.H. Cumming, GA

Wanted to thank you for all your advice and instruction.  You were so kind and thoughtful.  I am so fortunate that we crossed paths.  My divorce was final 12-30 and now I can work on moving forward with a healthy future!  I am keeping you on file for friends and will be happy to refer you.

C.S. Marietta, GA

“My first experience in working with Nancy was when she worked with me during my divorce. She took a very pragmatic approach to managing what is a very emotionally charged situation. I knew that together we would get through that difficult time. Because of that experience, I have continued to work with Nancy on all of my personal legal matters since. I have also, and will continue to recommend her to anyone looking for a great attorney.”

J.M. Roswell, GA

“I have used Nancy Ghertner for our business legal issues for almost 15 years.  She has been great!  There have been a few legal HR issues over the years that needed legal guidance.  We have also needed support with contracts review, Incorporation transfer work and an occasional client ‘late notice’ document. She is always calm and professional even when I am overwhelmed with an issue.  I cannot imagine ever changing business attorneys.”

J.N. CEO, Atlanta Staffing Firm