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Can one parent secure sole custody during a Georgia divorce?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Family Law

Parents who decide to divorce have more issues to address in family court than those who do not still have children living at home. In addition to talking about property division and financial support matters, divorcing parents have to make arrangements for the care of their children.

It is common for parents to disagree about the best way to share custody when they divorce. Usually, both parents hope to secure as much time with the children as possible. However, sometimes parents decide that they would prefer to seek sole custody.

When is it possible for one parent to obtain sole custody from the Georgia family courts during a divorce?

Sole custody is not the standard solution

When reviewing state statutes and current best practices, certain trends become clear. Judges typically prefer shared custody scenarios in which both parents have equal access to the children. Although it is common to give one parent primary custody and the other slightly less time with the children, there is often an expectation that parents should share decision-making authority for major choices related to their children.

Parents who want to secure terms that differ from those standards usually have two options. They can reach an agreement, or they can convince the court that sole custody is in the best interests of the children. Adults filing for uncontested divorces in Georgia have the option of setting their own terms, including specific custody arrangements that may grant one parent sole custody and the other visitation access. Seeking sole custody in a litigated or contested divorce is a very different matter.

The parent asking for sole custody needs evidence to support their request. They must convince a court that limiting the access of the other parents is in the best interests of the children. Police reports, medical records and witness testimony affirming serious safety issues are necessary to secure sole custody when the other parent wants time with the children.

Dangerous circumstances including domestic violence, substance abuse or neglect could help convince a judge that sole custody may be in the best interests of the children. The testimony of one parent is likely to be insufficient evidence when pursuing sole custody. In fact, trying to limit another parent’s access to the children in a manner the courts do not find credible could end up backfiring in some cases, resulting in a judge limiting that parent’s time with the children.

Understanding how the family courts handle contested child custody matters can be important for parents preparing for a Georgia divorce. Those who approach custody matters from the right perspective may improve their chances of a favorable outcome.