While most are aware that custody and visitation are not synonymous, many parents begin legal proceedings without realizing that custody is broken into two halves by the Court: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing and development, meaning a parent who obtains legal custody will have a say in matters such as their child’s education, hobbies, and religion. Physical custody, as the name suggests, refers to the actual guardianship of the child and will often be awarded to one parent, usually referred to as the “primary physical custodian,” while the secondary physical custodian will receive visitation.
It is our goal to help all parties involved in a custody and visitation dispute understand the various intricacies of the pertaining portions of family law. Caryn Fennell will help you complete all necessary documentation in order to expedite the court process and will ensure you know exactly what to expect—and what is expected of you—throughout the custody and visitation case.
When the issue of custody and visitation is brought before a Georgia court, the presiding judge must adhere to a number of policies when making a ruling. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
No gender preference
In Georgia, the Court is prohibited from basing any custody and visitation decision on the gender of either party, meaning preference is not given to the child’s mother or father simply because they are the child’s mother or father. Ultimately, the judge will base their ruling on what they feel is best for the child, so it is essential to secure an attorney who can adequately convey your connection to the child and ability as a parent.
Frequent and continuing contact
It is the aim of the Court, and The Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell, to ensure a custody and visitation case leaves the child in question with frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Under extreme circumstances, a parent may be granted both sole legal and physical custody of their child, but, for the most part, the presiding judge will work to grant both parents some degree of access to the child. When frequent and continuing contact is established, a child is more likely to adjust to the separation of his or her parents without risk of developing feelings of loneliness or abandonment.
While any judge presiding over a custody and visitation case will strive to arrive at the ruling which is most beneficial to the child, they must relinquish their decision-making power when the child in question reaches 16 years of age. At this juncture, the child is permitted to decide for themselves which parent they wish to live with for the remaining years of their childhood. Similarly, when a child turns 11, the judge assigned to their case is encouraged to give their desires careful consideration before making a ruling, though is under no obligation to rule in favor of the child’s preferred guardian.
A final word
Custody and visitation is a complicated issue and those embarking on a court battle relating to such matters should seek the help of a respected law firm if they wish to obtain a certain result. The Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell boasts years of experience in family law and has worked extensively on custody and visitation cases. We vow to keep the welfare of the child at the heart of every decision we make and will guide each client towards a ruling that is beneficial for them and their family.