Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (2023)

One question we hear a lot at Speights Law is what the chances of a father winning a joint custody agreement in Georgia are.

Unlike in the past, when a sole custody agreement with visitation rights for the non-custodial parent was the norm, many parents today want and expect a more even custody split.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (1)

Everything You Need to Know About 50/50 Joint Custody Arrangements and Fathers’ Rights in a Divorce

Although in the past, the courts have been biased against awarding equal time to both parents, today, more parents are being awarded joint custody than ever.

So, what does this mean for divorcing fathers who want to play a prominent role in the upbringing of their children?

To get to the heart of the matter, let’s first break down a few misconceptions about child custody for fathers and look at how Georgia laws influence custody cases.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (2)

Do Georgia Custody Laws Favor the Mother?

Short answer: No.

Most people have heard that courts prefer to give custody to mothers unless there is a very good reason not to do so.

However, Georgia law stipulates that the custody decision should not be preferential toward the mother.

That means that Georgia fathers have an equally good chance of being awarded child custody, as long as it is demonstrably in the child’s best interest.

It also means that fathers petitioning for joint custody and equal time with their kids have a better chance of getting the arrangement they want.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (3)

How Do Judges Decide Child Custody Cases?

Since the default is no longer sole custody with visitation or a marked preference for the mother over the father, how do judges decide who gets child custody?

Speaking broadly, Georgia judges must determine a custody arrangement that benefits the child above all else.

(Video) What Fathers Need To Do To Win Joint Custody In A Custody Battle

More specifically, in order to decide on the best custody arrangement for the child, the judge must consider a variety of factors, as stipulated by Georgia Code O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3.

These factors include things like:

  • the child’s bonds with other family members
  • the fitness of each parent
  • parental ability to provide for and care for the child
  • the stability of the home environment
  • any special needs the child may have

The child’s age may play a role in the decision, too, with younger children sometimes requiring more continuity that may not be well-served by a 50/50 joint custody arrangement.

Georgia law is also unusual in that it allows children 14 and older to have a say in the custody arrangement—the child may tell the judge which parent he or she prefers to live with.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (4)

Is Equal Custody Better or Worse for Children?

Despite past concerns that joint custody might be confusing or disruptive for kids, many experts now believe that it generally produces better outcomes for children.

One notable study, reported on by the American Psychological Association, found that children in equal custody situations “had fewer behavioral and emotional problems, higher self-esteem and better family relationships and school performance compared with those in sole-custody situations.”

There are, of course, exceptions to this, such as when one parent is unfit, or when a shared agreement is burdensome due to distance or time constraints.

On the whole, however, there is good evidence that having regular contact with both parents is often best for children, and many judges are taking this into account when deciding custody cases.

What Does This Mean for Fathers Seeking Joint Custody in Georgia?

Individual circumstances vary widely, of course, but the good news is that fathers have a better chance of getting joint custody than ever before.

You likely have a strong case for joint custody if you can show you have:

  • Demonstrated ability to be a good father
  • Time and ability to meet parental obligations
  • A residence in proximity to the child’s school and extracurricular activities and
  • An amicable and cooperative relationship with the mother

Demonstrating your fitness to a judge may be easier when you have an experienced family lawyer representing your interests – especially if your ex isn’t yet entirely on board with an equal custody split.

A good lawyer can also help you ensure a more amicable split during a divorce, which is an important factor judges weigh when deciding on shared custody.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (5)

Should a Father Expect to Get a 50/50 Joint Custody Split?

Now seems like a good time to make a very important point: joint custody doesn’t always mean 50/50, or equal physical custody.

Moreover, even in cases where equal custody is awarded, the division of time is not always a clean 50/50 split.

(Video) Father's Rights 50/50 Custody. Does it really work in 2021?

That’s because child stability and schooling interests are sometimes better served by having the child spend more time in one place, by custody schedules that vary seasonally, or by staggered schedules built around school, extracurricular and work considerations.

Many people think of shared custody as the child simply spending alternating weeks with each parent.

In practice, however, there are many ways to share custody, and arrangements like 2-2-3 parenting schedules, rotating schedules that vary during different times of year and other custom plans may work better for your child.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (6)

The Parenting Plan for 50/50 Shared Custody

If, as a dedicated father, you want to ask for a 50/50 joint custody split, you will need to show the judge how it will benefit the child and not just how it will suit your own personal preference.

You will also need to come up with a parenting plan that you and your ex can agree on, and it will need to outline the shared custody agreement in detail.

The plan should explain how the proposed custody arrangement will maintain the stability and healthy home environment the child needs to thrive.

Specific points that should be addressed in your parenting plan include:

  • Each residence where the child will live.
  • Detailed specifics outlining the custody schedule.
  • How and where the child will spend special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and school breaks.
  • Plans to transport the child to and from each parent’s house, how you plan to exchange the child, and who pays for transportation costs.
  • How you plan to divide decision-making and resolve disagreements regarding the child’s education, healthcare, religious involvement, and other upbringing issues.

Having a well thought out plan for how your child will split time between homes, with clear scheduling objectives and logistical considerations, will strengthen your case for a 50/50 physical custody agreement.

You’ll need to show that your plan will serve the best interests of the child, and that you’re capable of upholding the obligations of your plan.

Parenting plans must have very specific requirements to be considered valid by the courts, and having an attorney’s help in drawing one up can be invaluable.

For this reason, it is recommended that you work with a family lawyer to ensure all the legal details are correct and that the plan you come up with is feasible, acceptable to all parties and demonstrably beneficial for your child.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (7)

Six Factors That Can Affect Fathers’ Chances of Getting a 50/50 Joint Physical Custody Arrangement:

  1. How well both parents cooperate and get along.

In our experience, judges in Cherokee County are less willing to order 50/50 joint custody if the divorce was contentious.

That’s because people who co-parent closely must get along well most of the time, agree on the child’s daily routine and make major life and legal decisions together. They should also be able to resolve any disagreements with minimal upheaval to the child.

Consider working with a mediator to resolve differences and increase your chances of getting shared custody—an experienced family lawyer can help you find one.


  1. Proximity of each of the homes.

Custody-sharing parents need to live in somewhat close proximity, to keep the child’s school routine running smoothly and eliminate the stress of long travel times.

If you or your spouse are looking at residences far apart, consider living closer, so a joint custody arrangement makes more sense for your child.

  1. Time and ability to meet parental obligations.

You must be able to get your child to appointments and extracurricular activities regularly, too, so having a consistent or flexible work schedule may figure into the decision. You will also want to demonstrate that you have the time and commitment to be actively involved in parenting your child.

Wherever possible, adjust your work schedule so it will be more suitable for parenting your child.

  1. The age and unique needs of the child.

Older children may adapt more easily to moving from one parental home to another, while young children and those with particular emotional needs or physical disabilities may be better served by a primary custody arrangement. The judge deciding your case will look closely at factors like these when deciding custodial arrangements.

Once young children get older, more mature, and more capable of splitting time between two homes, you may be able to petition for a child custody modification for 50/50 joint custody.

  1. The child’s wishes.

In Georgia, a child can choose which parent to live with when they turn 14, and judges will generally abide by this choice as long as the choice is in the child’s best interests.

Judges also have the discretion to take the preferences of a child aged 11-13 under consideration, but other factors, such as the child’s educational needs, will come first.

Talk to your child about what he or she wants – don’t just assume that what you want is what will be right for them.

  1. Whether both parents are in favor of a 50/50 agreement.

It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if one parent objects to a 50/50 joint custody arrangement, but it definitely helps if you and your spouse are on the same page.

Try to talk things out and come up with a parenting plan that both of you can live with before heading into court.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (8)

FAQS About Joint 50/50 Custody in Georgia

  1. Is It Hard for a Father to Win Joint Custody?

Since the Georgia courts do not give preference to mothers when deciding custody issues, fathers should not be at any disadvantage when seeking 50/50 custody. The main factors influencing the decision will be the best interests of the child and the ability of the parents to work together and carry out any joint custody agreement.

  1. Does Joint Custody Affect My Child Support? Will I Pay Less Than a Non-Custodial Parent?

Child support in Georgia is calculated based on a formula that takes into account the income of both parents and necessary expenses for the child. There are several adjustments the court can choose to apply to these, and one of these is known as the parenting time deviation.

If you are caring for the child for more time than average, either because of joint custody or increased visitation, your child support responsibility may be reconfigured at the discretion of the courts. Each situation will be evaluated based on the best interests of the child, however, and joint custody does not always equal lower child support payments.

  1. How Does Joint Custody Scheduling Work?

Most people have heard of joint custody situations where the child spends one week with one parent and the next with the other, but there are many other arrangements that work well for both children and parents.

(Video) How to Increase Your Chances of Getting 50/50 Custody When Asking for Child Custody!

A 2-2-3 schedule gives the child two nights with each parent and then three nights with one, with parents taking turns each week on the three-night weekend. There are also 2-2-5-5 schedules, 3-4-4-3 schedules, 4-3 schedules and weekend schedules where the child lives with one parent for most of the week and the other during a long weekend.

Consider your child’s needs and temperament as well as your own obligations when figuring out the right custody schedule for everyone.

  1. I Didn’t Get Joint Custody After Our Divorce. Can I Get it Now?

Relationships change, circumstances change and custody arrangements can change with them. If you weren’t initially granted a joint custody arrangement, it’s possible that you and your spouse can renegotiate it after some time has passed, strong feelings have died down, and a good record of cooperation has been established in co-parenting your children.

Situations like an improved work schedule, closer proximity and an ability to work with your ex may make a court look favorably on a joint custody arrangement. Also, as young children get older, a judge may find that joint custody is desirable where previously it was not. A legal professional can advise you on your options for a joint child custody modification.

  1. How Likely Am I to Get Joint Custody?

Many factors can influence the likelihood of a joint custody agreement. Judges consider things like the fitness of both parents, the practicality of a joint custody arrangement, and the overall needs of the child.

Although joint custody is not quite yet the norm in Georgia child custody and divorce cases, building a strong case with the help of an experienced family law attorney can help you achieve the results you seek.

Are You a Father Trying to Get Joint Custody of Your Kids? Talk to An Experienced Family Lawyer in Cherokee County

If you’re currently navigating a divorce, don’t wait to talk to a lawyer. The custody judgement you get will shape your life – and your children’s – for many years to come.

At Speights Law, we have an outstanding record of success helping fathers achieve what’s best for them and their children. We can do the same for you – call us at(770) 479-1500 for a confidential consultation today.

Can A Father Get 50/50 Custody in Georgia? (9)

Amanda Speights

Amanda Speights is a co-founder and lead family law attorney at Speights Law, PC in Cherokee County. She is anexperienced family law lawyerwho handles an assortment of domestic cases, including divorce, child custody, child support, appeals and other types of litigation in the state of Georgia. To contact Amanda, please visit our contact page.

(Video) How Far apart Can Parents Live and still Have 50/50 Custody? - Brown Law Utah Divorce FAQs


Could Georgia mandate 50-50 custody? ›

— When Georgia couples with children divorce, current law presumes that the mother should keep custody, unless the judge finds reason to rule against her. House Bill 96 could scrap that and mandate 50/50 custody if a judge decides it's in the best interest of the child.

How does 50-50 custody work in GA? ›

Even in joint custody arrangements, parenting time is usually not divided equally. However, 50-50 parenting time may be awarded if the judge believes that your child's best interests are being served. The judge's decision will be based on considering multiple factors, which include: The parents' wishes.

Will the courts agree to 50/50 custody? ›

With 50/50 physical custody, each parent spends an equal amount of time with the child. Since this arrangement requires a lot of cooperation between parents, judges won't approve it unless they believe it will work and is in the child's best interest.

Can a father get full custody in Georgia? ›

As a father, you get full custody in Georgia so long as you put the child's best interests first. The court will consider the following when deciding the child's best interests: Compatability with the parent. Ability to meet the child's essential needs.

How can a father get 50 50 custody in Georgia? ›

If you want a 50/50 joint custody split, you will need to show the judge how it will benefit the child and not just how it will suit your own personal preference. The need to make a good case to the court is another reason why having an attorney experienced in child custody cases can help your chances in court.

Does a father have 50 50 rights? ›

There is no legal minimum or maximum where Custody Is Shared, as each case depends on its particular facts. In all cases, however, the court will be primarily focused on the child's best interests.

What do judges look for in child custody cases Georgia? ›

Factors in custody decisions

The judge considers each parent's: Bond with the children. Ability and desire to provide the children with affection and guidance. Familiarity with the children's needs, plus capacity to provide for those needs.

What is the most common custody arrangement in Georgia? ›

A common pattern is for children to split weeks between each parent's house. Other joint physical custody arrangements include alternating years or six-month periods, or spending weekends and holidays with one parent while spending weekdays with the other.

What do courts look at for child custody Georgia? ›

Child custody laws in Georgia require a judge to consider the following factors, and any other factor that impact's a child's best interests: each parent's home environment and ability to care for and nurture the child. each parent's physical and mental health. each parent's emotional ties to the child.

Why does my ex want 50/50 custody? ›


The second most common reason to ask for 50/50 custody is that a parent wants to prove that they are equal. Remember, a custody order is not supposed to make parents feel good; it is supposed to take care of the child.

What are the disadvantages of 50 50 custody? ›

Cons of equal shared parenting:

Some children may struggle to adapt to frequently moving between homes. 50/50 parenting time can reduce or possibly eliminate child support payments, which may leave children without adequate financial support.

How do you get 50/50 shared custody? ›

Alternating weeks are one of the simplest 50/50 schedules. In this pattern, one week is spent with Parent A while the following week is spent with Parent B. This keeps parenting exchanges to an absolute minimum while still allowing both parents to have robust relationships with their children.

On what grounds can a father get full custody? ›

There are therefore usually two situations in which a father would seek custody, the first being if the parties have separated and the father just wants to have the children with him, and the second being if the father has a genuine concern about the children's welfare when living with their mother.

Who has full custody of a child in Georgia? ›

Both parents have equal rights to custody of a child born during a marriage. What if the mother and father are separated and one wants sole custody? That parent must go to court and get legal custody. The court awards custody to the parent it decides can best raise the child.

Does Georgia favor mothers in custody cases? ›

Does Georgia Favor Mothers in Custody Cases? The short answer is no, Georgia is not a “mom state” nor does it have a presumed preference for mothers in custody cases. In the past, family courts had the “tender years doctrine” which was a belief that it's better for young children to grow up in the care of their mother.

How does a mother lose custody in Georgia? ›

Under Georgia law, a parent can give up parental custody rights voluntarily or can be deemed "unfit" and lose such rights by: abandoning a child. cruelty or abusive treatment of the child, raising a child under immoral or obscene influences, or.

What rights does a father have in Georgia? ›

In Georgia, both the mother and father who are married have equal rights as parents. However, it is important to note that if the parents are unmarried, only the biological mother has legal and physical custody rights to the child.

Do you pay child support with joint custody in Georgia? ›

Under Georgia law, an award of joint physical custody does not mean that child support will not be ordered. Even in cases where joint physical custody is awarded, the Georgia Child Support Guidelines still apply and it may be possible that one parent will have to pay child support.

Does a mother have more rights than a father? ›

However, it remains a common misconception that mothers have more rights than fathers. In fact, if each parent has parental responsibility for a child, their rights and responsibilities are equal.

What custody arrangement is best for a child? ›

50/50 schedules can benefit a child because the child spends substantial time living with both parents. This allows him or her to build a close relationship with both parents, and to feel cared for by both parents. 50/50 schedules work best when: The parents live fairly close to each other, so exchanges are easier.

How many hours a week can a father see his child? ›

There are no set rules on how frequently a father can see his child and the arrangements can vary between: Custody of the child with the mother having contact with the child. Equal parenting with the child spending about half their time with each parent.

What a father needs to know in child custody cases? ›

Tips for Fathers: How to Win Child Custody
  • Pay Your Child Support Payments. ...
  • Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child. ...
  • Maintain Your Own Records. ...
  • Attend Important Meetings & Events. ...
  • Prepare Their Own Space in Your Home. ...
  • Have a Plan for Your Child's Needs. ...
  • Be Respectful. ...
  • Ask Someone Who Has Been There.

Who is the best interest of the child in Georgia? ›

Georgia law puts the child's best interest first in every child custody decision. Neither parent is favored however parents of minor children are encouraged to co-parent in the best interest of the child.

At what age does a child have a say in custody in Georgia? ›

Although many lawyers question whether children in a divorcing or divorced family are unduly empowered, the law in Georgia is that a child 14 or older can elect his or her "physical custodial”, the parent with whom the child will live with more than 50% of the time.

Who gets custody most often? ›

Statistics show that women win child custody rights a staggering 90% of the time , even though fathers play an important role in their children's lives pre and post-divorce.

Who is the primary custodial parent in Georgia? ›

It just means that the court, always operating by the principle of “best interests of the child,” has said that the child will spend at minimum 50.1% of the time with one parent and the other parent can have the rest. Thus, one parent has “primary custody.”

Is it hard to get sole custody in Georgia? ›

In Georgia, it is rare for a parent to be awarded sole physical custody unless the non-custodial parent suffers from a mental illness, dependency, or some other circumstance prevents that parent from being a good and safe parent for the child.

What do judges ask for in child custody cases? ›

The most basic part of the "best interests" standard is that custody decisions should serve the children's health, safety, and welfare. Judges will look at whether one or both parents are able to handle a child's special educational, medical, mental health, and other needs.

Why would a judge change custody in Georgia? ›

There are two main instances where the court will modify the child custody order: One parent is no longer able or suited to retain custody. Some situations affecting the child's safety are more serious, such as if the other parent has developed a mental illness or a drug abuse problem.

Can a mother move a child out of state without father's permission in Georgia? ›

Georgia parents who wish to relocate with their children must notify their child's other parent, or obtain permission from the court.

What are the pros and cons of 50 50 custody? ›

The pros of a 50/50 schedule are that the child gets to see both parents an equal amount of time. The cons are that this arrangement doesn't always make sense with parents' work schedules and the child's activity schedule.

Who claims child benefit in joint custody? ›

Shared custody

If you share custody of a child it is the person with 'main responsibility' who is normally eligible to claim Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or the Universal Credit child element for that child.

Why do fathers only get every other weekend? ›

The alternating weekends schedule was established in order to give both parents the opportunity to spend time with their child on weekends.

What is the best 50 50 custody schedule? ›

Alternating weeks are one of the simplest 50/50 child custody schedules. In this pattern, one week is spent with Parent A while the following week is spent with Parent B. This keeps parenting exchanges to an absolute minimum while still allowing both parents to have robust relationships with their children.

What are the psychological effects of 50 50 custody? ›

The children describe feeling pressured emotionally. Often they become emotionally and physically overwhelmed and exhausted. They suffer from anxiety, depression, academic failure, self-devaluation, and reduced self-esteem. In adolescence, they may become substance abusers or attempt suicide.

What are the disadvantages of joint custody? ›

The Disadvantages Of Joint Custody

This can be very difficult for some parents, especially if they don't get along. Arguments and conflicts often arise – If the parents have a contentious relationship, joint custody can actually make arguments and conflicts worse, since both parents have equal rights over the child.

How can I get shared custody easier? ›

11 ways to make shared custody not suck
  1. Collaborate, don't litigate. ...
  2. Be respectful and “professional” ...
  3. Create a parenting plan. ...
  4. Remember that “fair” doesn't always mean “equal” ...
  5. Communicate effectively, part 1. ...
  6. Communicate effectively, part 2. ...
  7. Never insult your ex in front of the kids. ...
  8. Schedule parenting “dates”
May 29, 2020

Is 50 50 shared care common? ›

It is a common misconception that shared care means a 50/50 split of the time spent with the child/children when parents separate. It is actually quite rare for a child to spend exactly 50% of their time with each parent in these circumstances.

What is the most common custody schedule? ›

The most popular custody schedules are 'Every Other Weekend', '3-2-2', 'Every Other Weekend Plus a Mid-Week Visit' and 'Week About'.

What is Georgia law on child custody? ›

Georgia courts most commonly award both parents joint legal custody and give one parent primary physical custody. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make major decisions for their children. Their parenting plan (more below) specifies how they will divide or collaborate on decisions.

Is Georgia a dad state? ›

In Georgia, when your child is born outside of a marriage, the mother is the only person allowed to have legal or physical custody of the child. There are no automatic fathers' rights. This is true even if you live with the mother or have been in a committed relationship for several years.

Can a mother get full custody in Georgia? ›

Both parents have equal rights to custody of a child born during a marriage. What if the mother and father are separated and one wants sole custody? That parent must go to court and get legal custody. The court awards custody to the parent it decides can best raise the child.

Who gets primary custody in Georgia? ›

Unless one parent has been a danger to the child, the beginning point is to typically establish who has been the primary care giver for the minor child. In most cases, the primary care giver will receive primary physical custody.

How a mother can lose a custody battle in Georgia? ›

- Parent may lose right to custody if parent is found to be unfit. Unfitness of parent should be shown by clear and convincing evidence that circumstances of case justify court in acting for best interest and welfare of child.

What are a fathers rights in Georgia? ›

Legal Definition of “Father” in Georgia

In Georgia, both the mother and father who are married have equal rights as parents. However, it is important to note that if the parents are unmarried, only the biological mother has legal and physical custody rights to the child.

Who has sole custody of a child in Georgia? ›

In the absence of legitimation or other legal rulings, the unmarried mother always receives sole custody, according to Georgia law. Married parents do not face this concern, but an unmarried father may be surprised to realize he has no legal rights to his child at all.

How do I get full custody in GA? ›

File a petition to begin child custody proceedings. You can file a petition for child custody in your county's Superior Court. If you are divorcing, the petition will be included in your divorce papers. You must then serve, or deliver, custody forms to the other party using a process server or sheriff's office.

How much is child support for 1 kid in Georgia? ›

The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.

At what age in Georgia can a child decide which parent to live with? ›

Although many lawyers question whether children in a divorcing or divorced family are unduly empowered, the law in Georgia is that a child 14 or older can elect his or her "physical custodial”, the parent with whom the child will live with more than 50% of the time.

Can a mother move a child out of state without father's permission Georgia? ›

Unless the father determines paternity and goes to court to arrange for joint custody or visitation rights, the mother has sole custody and responsibility for the child and is able to move out of state whenever she wants or needs to.


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