There are two types of custody in the state of Georgia: physical custody and legal custody. In the majority of cases, the custody of each is shared between the two parents. This means that each parent will have equal decision-making responsibility regarding the child’s educational and medical needs. If the parents are unable to decide, one of the parents will be awarded primary legal custody, which means they make the final decision. Typically, this will go to the parent with primary custody.
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Modifying Child Support

What is legal custody?

There are four main areas in which legal custody decisions are required. These include the child’s medical care, religious upbringing and decisions, education, and extracurricular activities. Whether it be legal or physical, custody decisions are determined based on the child’s best interest. Discussions must be had before deciding to enroll the child in a new school, proceed with a medical procedure, etc.

Types of Child Custody

Joint Legal Custody

Joint legal custody is the standard in the state of Georgia. This means that the parents share the decision-making responsibility regarding the child. Each parent’s opinion and wishes will be considered before moving forward with any decisions regarding medical, educational, and religious matters. This allows both parents to have a say in what is happening in their child’s life and helps keep one parent from making decisions without discussing them with the other parent.

Sole Legal Custody

If the parents cannot agree about the child’s educational, medical, religious, or extracurricular activities, then one parent will be awarded sole legal custody. If this is the case, the other parent should still be consulted before any major decisions are made regarding the child. Sole legal custody may also be awarded if one parent has a history of violence, substance abuse, or other concerns regarding the child’s welfare.

When is legal custody decided?

Custody is typically addressed twice. It will be addressed at the temporary hearing very early on in the case, soon after filing. If the parents decide on legal custody at any point before the divorce trial, it can also be heard then. Permanent custody decisions will also be addressed at the trial. If there’s ever a situation where the legal custody arrangement needs to be changed, there must be proof that the situation or circumstances have changed, and the child’s welfare would be improved with the modification. There are no time restrictions on when a modification can or must be filed.


Now that you have taken the time to educate yourself on who we are, it’s time to focus on how to move forward in your case. Contact us via phone or the contact form to schedule your comprehensive one-hour consultation. Be sure to have available, all relevant information and details about your case when you contact Family Matters Law Group so that we can provide you with an exceptionally personalized experience.