Like all states, Georgia has its own specific laws governing child custody.  While movie stereotypes and news will have you think that mothers almost always win custody battles, this is not necessarily the case, and this negative mindset could cloud your custody proceedings.  Under Georgia law, both parents are equal when it comes to child custody arrangements.  This means that fathers do have rights in custody proceedings, and that your child’s mother is not automatically going to win.

Georgia Code Section 19-9-3 mandates that custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child standard.  This means the Court must take into consideration factors such as:


  • Each parent’s physical and mental health;
  • Each parent’s emotional ties to the child;
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the child with necessities, such as clothing, food, and medical care;
  • Whether there is any history of substance abuse by either parent;
  • Whether there is any history of physical or sexual abuse or neglect committed by either parent;
  • Whether there is a criminal history by either parent;
  • The relationship between the child and any siblings or family members in either parent’s home; and
  • The level of involvement of each parent in the child’s schooling and extra-curricular activities.


This means that if a father can legitimately make the case he fulfills more of the factors set forth in Section 19-9-3, it is his right to be awarded custody.


The Types of Custody Available under Georgia Law


Generally speaking, a parent may be awarded either joint custody or sole custody.  Joint custody means that both parents are vested with the rights to take part in the major parenting decisions regarding the child, and must share information with each other.  This is the most common type of custody award in Georgia.


Sole custody, on the other hand, means all the custodial rights are assigned to one parent and the other parent has no rights.  This is the worst state for the father, as it does not alleviate any other paternal obligations, such as child support obligations.


Within the range of joint custody, Georgia law allows for either legal custody or physical custody.  This means that your child may not be physically with you if you are only awarded joint legal custody.  You will be able to partake in key decision-making processes, but it is the parent with physical custody who gets to live with the child.  This is where the best interests of the child come in- as the judge will consider the factors in deciding who should get physical custody, and who only gets visitation time.


Contacting a Lawyer for Help


As a matter of practice, you and your former spouse should craft a formal parenting plan and schedule, clearly outlining who will spend time with the child throughout the year.  It is best if you and your spouse will be able to work out an amicable decision to allow your child to split his or her time between the both of you.  If this is not possible, the attorneys at Edwards & Associates may be able to help you with your case and ensure you are given all the rights that y