Do Children Get to Choose Which Parent to Live With?

Work with an experienced lawyer to learn more about child custody rules in Georgia. 

Being involved in a child custody case can be emotional and even traumatic for all parties involved, including the parents and the child. For parents who are in disagreement about child custody, it is important that both parties have an understanding of the law and factors that a judge will consider when making a determination about child custody. Here is what you should know about the “best interests of the child” standard, factors considered in a child custody case, and whether or not children get a say as to with which parent they want to live. To learn more, call our family law attorney in Georgia directly.

How is Child Custody Determined in Georgia?

Parents are encouraged to work together to submit a parenting plan to the court. When parents are unable to agree about with whom a child should live and what the responsibilities of each parent should be, though, they must turn to the court. If the court is responsible for making a determination about child custody, it will do so based on “the best interests of the child.” 

How are the Child’s Best Interests Determined?

In order to make a determination about what decision will best support the best interests of the child, the court will consider a number of factors. These factors are outlined in Section 19-9-3 of Georgia Code and include:

  • The love, affection, and bonding that exists between the child and each parent;
  • The capacity and ability of each parent to provide the child with love, affection, and guidance;
  • The love and affection that exists between the child and others in the house or family, such as siblings;
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child;
  • The home environment provided by each parent;
  • The mental and physical health of each parent;
  • Each parent’s employment status and work schedule;
  • The willingness of each parent to continue fostering a loving relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • Any history of violence or abuse within the family;
  • Any other factor the judge finds relevant.

What About the Opinion of the Child?

Georgia statute also outlines when the opinion and preferences of the child in question may be considered. Under Georgia law, a child may express their preferences about which parent they wish to live with when the child is at least 14 years of age. What is more, the law reads that “the child’s selection for purposes of custody shall be presumptive unless the parent so selected is determined to not be in the best interests of the child.” In other words, if a child expresses the desire to live with one parent, this wish will be granted unless there is evidence that this would not be in the child’s best interests.

Call a Georgia Family Law Attorney Today

If you have questions about child custody and how it is determined, call our experienced Georgia family law attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP today. We are here to help you during this challenging time. 

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