In child custody disputes involving parents who both seek physical custody, one of the basic questions the court will ask regards the parents’ ability to provide shelter, food and clothing for the child or children. Issues become more complex when questions arise as to whether a parent’s behavior might be detrimental to the kids. If there is dispute over this matter, then each parent may have to provide proof to challenge the other’s claims.

Of course, ideally, parents would always come to a reasonable agreement about what is best for the children. In Georgia, for instance, child custody is generally viewed as having two components. Physical custody is given to the parent with whom the child will reside, and legal custody involves a parent’s right to make decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, including religious matters, health care and education.

Georgia courts have begun to regard child-rearing more often in terms of parenting time, rather than in terms of which parent gets physical custody and which parent gets visitation. This shift comes as more people understand that participation from both parents is important for the health and well-being of a child.

However, in extreme cases, a parent’s legal and physical custody rights can be suspended or revoked. These cases typically involve neglect, abuse or a parent’s otherwise becoming unable to care for a child, and sometimes family members other than the parents have to get involved.

Also, under Georgia law, children as young as 11 may now legally express their preference for living arrangements in court.

To learn more about how child custody arrangements are decided (and sometimes modified), please visit our main family law website.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Kids’ living conditions outrage relatives, Orlando neighbors,” Susan Jacobson, March 28, 2014