Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

Custody & Parenting Time
February 22, 2024

Custody is based on the best interests of a child. Two areas of custody must be decided when custody is at issue: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the right to make big decisions on behalf of your child. There are four legal custody decision areas – education, non-emergency medical, extracurricular activities, and religion. Physical custody involves the schedule for your child’s time with each parent.

“Sole” custody is often a misunderstood concept. It is very rare that a parent will not be granted parenting time or any legal decision-making authority.

Absent extreme circumstances, courts in Georgia usually grant both parents joint legal custody, where both parents are involved in big decisions for their child. In a joint legal custody arrangement, parents confer and attempt to agree on big decisions. In the event of disagreement, one parent is granted tie-breaking authority. Tie-breaking authority for the four areas can be given to one parent or be divided between the parents. In the rare case that a parent is granted sole legal custody, they can make big decisions without involving the other parent. However, the other parent generally still has access to the child’s school and medical records.

For physical custody, several options are possible. One parent can be granted primary physical custody where the child resides with them the majority of the time. A joint physical custody arrangement means parents each have their child 50% of the time. There is no specific formula for a schedule in either case since it is based on the child’s best interests.

The details for legal custody and physical custody in your case will be laid out in your Parenting Plan, a required Georgia form needed to finalize cases involving custody. We carefully craft Parenting Plans to fit your goals and your child’s best interests and are highly respected in the legal community for our expertise in child custody matters. Call us today at 404-909-8300 so we can learn more about you and your child’s specific custody needs.