If you are currently going through a divorce and there are children involved, you and your spouse will inevitably wonder: “How will custody be arranged and how often will I see my children?” Although we have heard numerous titles to describe parenting time breakdowns over the years, on a simplistic basis, without reference to any titles, physical custody just refers to the time each parent will have with the child(ren).
Because it is so common to refer to various titles for physical custody arrangements, we have developed several pages to address each type of custody arrangement. In general, three types of physical custody are available: 1) primary custody; 2) joint custody; and, 3) sole (or full) custody. In common practice and without reference to any laws in Georgia, primary custody refers to the arrangement where one parent has the majority of time with a child. Joint custody refers to the arrangement where the parties split parenting time roughly equally. Sole custody refers to the arrangement where one parent has nearly all of the time with the child. In addition, there is also the concept of split parenting time, whereby one child spends the majority of his or her time with one parent and the other child spends the majority of time with the other parent. To learn more about each type of arrangement, please visit these subpages. Regardless of the definitions, however, please keep in mind that these designations regarding times are often blurred and what usually matters is actual time with your child, not some title or designation. To learn more about common schedules of various parenting time arrangements, please visit our page on sample parenting plans.
With respect to the determination of physical custody, it may be made by the parties themselves (via a parenting plan agreement which is subject to judicial approval) or, if the parties cannot work it out themselves, by the judge presiding over the case. Regardless of how the determination is made, the best interests of the child or children involved must be considered by the court before any physical custody arrangement is ordered.