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Georgia Child Custody Laws

All U.S. states, including Georgia, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which is intended to minimize interstate child custody conflicts. Georgia child custody laws, which came into compliance with the UCCA in 1978, allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights.

Georgia courts recognize legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make major life decisions, such as schooling and religious upbringing. Physical custody refers to the decision of which parent or guardian the child lives with. As in other states, either one (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents may have legal and/or physical custody.

For example, a joint legal custody arrangement allows both parents to make major life decisions on behalf of the child. In a sole physical custody arrangement, the child lives with one parent full-time, even if the non-custodial parent has visitation rights or shares in the legal custody arrangement.

Georgia child custody laws stipulate that children 14 and older may choose which parent to live with, but the judge may overrule this decision if he or she determines the child's decision is not in his or her best interests. A parenting plan generally recognizes the following:

  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child's best interest.
  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while child is with that particular parent.
  • Both parents are to have access to a child's official records

Parenting plans also identify now children will spend birthdays and other holidays; transportation arrangements; when supervision is required; and other considerations.

Learn more about Georgia child custody laws in the table below, along with links to related articles and resources. See FindLaw's Child Custody section for additional information.

Code Section 19-9-1, et seq.
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted 1978
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, §19-9-3(a)(5)
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, §19-9-3(d)
Child's Own Wishes Considered? Yes

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Georgia child custody attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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