It is the law that Georgia child custody decisions are to be based on the “best interest of the child and what will best promote the child’s welfare and happiness”. Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 19-9-3 lists seventeen examples of factors that may be considered. This list is not all inclusive; any factor relevant to the best interests of the child may be considered by a judge faced with a custody decision.
Parents negotiating Georgia custody agreements should think about these factors and the impact of their proposed settlement terms on their children’s best interest, welfare and happiness.
Parents contemplating a Georgia custody battle should analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions in light of the list of factors in the Georgia law. Additionally, each parent should carefully consider whether there might be additional considerations that should be presented to the judge in support of his or her case as the custodial parent who will promote the child’s best interest.
As you work to prepare your case, it will be helpful to your attorney if you organize your thoughts and factual examples using the factors listed in Georgia code section 19-9-3. Thoughtful review of this list and preparation of notes for your lawyer will help your lawyer present your case and give you better advice about your Georgia custody case.
The seventeen child custody factors listed in OCGA § 19-9-3 are:
“(A) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;
(B) The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and stepsiblings and the residence of such other children;
(C) The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child;
(D) Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;
(E) The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent;
(F) The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;
(G) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
(H) The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child;
(I) The mental and physical health of each parent;
(J) Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
(K) Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;
(L) The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;
(M) Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;
(N) The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child;
(O) Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;
(P) Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent; and
(Q) Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent.”
The experienced family law attorneys at Hindson & Melton LLC can assist you with analysis of how the “best interest of the child” custody factors apply in your situation. Contact us today for a Georgia child custody consultation.
Karen S. Hindson, ©Hindson & Melton LLC September 6, 2012