There are a number of different forms of child custody that can be legally instituted following a divorce. East Cobb child custody rulings concern two specific areas: the establishment of legal custody and of physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make long-term plans and decisions regarding the education, non-emergency medical care, religious training, discipline, and other questions of major significance with respect to a child’s welfare and upbringing. Physical custody refers to the everyday residence and care of a child, and concerns the right to make decisions regarding the child’s everyday needs. “Sole custody” is when both physical and legal custody are granted to a single parent; in this case, the child has only one primary residence. “Joint custody” can take many forms, but involves parents sharing the legal responsibilities along with the physical care and custody of the child. With joint custody, both parents are allowed time and contact with the child. In awarding joint custody, an East Cobb child custody determination can grant joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both. Non-parental or third-party custody may be awarded in cases of divorce, the death of a parent where the surviving parent is deemed unfit, or when a child has been living with the third-party for an extended period of time. In such cases, the third parties seeking custody are often grandparents, aunts, uncles, or step-parents. Split custody is relatively rare, and describes a situation in which custody of multiple children is divided between the parents. Usually split custody is awarded only under unusual circumstances, since it is usually considered in a child’s best interest to be raised with their siblings.
In considering an East Cobb child custody case, much consideration is given to the wishes of the child. Any child 14 years and older has the right to select the parent with whom he or she will live, and the child’s wishes shall be honored unless the selected parent is deemed unfit. In cases in which the child is at least 11 years, but not yet 14, the court will still consider the wishes of the child in its ruling along with his or her educational needs.
A child custody arrangement is extremely important in creating pleasant parenting relationships after your divorce. Whenever parents are able to reach agreement regarding a child custody arrangement on their own, judges are likely to grant approval under the assumption that they’re made in the best interest of the child. Such agreements can be preferable to custody determinations imposed by a judge, which can be difficult to alter by appeal. An East Cobb child custody lawyer is always available to answer any questions you might have in navigating your options during this difficult time.