What Is a Typical Parenting Time Schedule in Georgia?

It’s understandable that creating a visitation schedule in a custody case can cause a lot of tension. Every parent wants to spend as much parenting time with their children as possible. With so much at stake, it’s important to understand some of the basic guidelines the court considers when approving a parenting time schedule.

Family Matters Law Group has extensive experience helping parents craft a parenting schedule that meets the best interests of the child. At the end of the day, that will be the most important factor in whether a schedule is approved.

A Schedule That Both Parents Can Agree On

If both parents get along fairly well, they can craft a parenting agreement that will pass muster with the courts. A parenting plan has three major schedules, including:

  • A residential schedule for most weekdays and weekends.
  • A holiday schedule that covers major holidays and special days.
  • A summer break schedule that covers when the children are not in school.

Your parenting plan will also include detailed information about how each parent can negotiate changes in the schedule. Exchanges and any needed supervised visits will also be addressed in the comprehensive parenting plan that you will turn in to the court for approval.

When Parents Can’t Agree on a Schedule

If both parents can’t agree, the court will decide a schedule for you. No legislative mandated parenting schedule exists in the state of Georgia, but most judges recognize a standard schedule, customarily used in the community.

A typical court-ordered schedule will grant parenting time to the non-custodial parent from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday every other weekend. Holidays also typically run from 6 p.m. on the first day to 6 p.m. on the last day, with parents alternating even and odd years. So, for example, Thanksgiving (which falls on a Thursday) would run from 6 p.m. on Wednesday to 6 p.m. on Sunday, with one parent getting the odd numbered years and the other getting the even ones.

Holidays that should be considered on a parenting schedule include (but are not limited to):

  • Easter Weekend.
  • Spring Break (generally running from 6 p.m. the day school lets out to 6 p.m. the day before school is back in session).
  • Mother’s Day/Father’s Day.
  • Memorial Day.
  • Independence Day.
  • Labor Day.
  • Thanksgiving Day.
  • Christmas (NOTE: Christmas is often a split holiday. It is not unusual for one parent to get several days before Christmas up to a designated time on Christmas Day, then switch to the other parent for the rest of Christmas Day and several days afterward.).

During the summer vacation, a non-custodial parent can receive approximately 4 to 6 weeks of parenting time. Keep in mind that a court-ordered parenting schedule represents the minimum amount of time a non-custodial parent should expect to receive. It is certainly possible to negotiate with the other parent for more time based on extenuating circumstances.

Some General Guidelines

Keep in mind the following when thinking about parenting schedules:

  • Georgia follows a gender-neutral guideline for custody. In other words, neither the mother or father has an advantage in a custody decision. The court operates on what is in the best interests of the child.
  • The happiness and general welfare of the child will always be the first priority of the court, taking precedence over what is convenient for the parents.
  • The court believes that it is in the child’s best interests to have contact with both parents, as well as all grandparents, unless there is a compelling reason (such as safety) to deny this.
  • In Georgia, when a child is 11, the child is allowed to express a preference to the court as to which parent they choose to live with. The judge will take that into consideration.
  • In Georgia, when a child is 14, they can choose which parent to live with.

It’s great if you can mutually work out a visitation schedule with your ex. However, in many cases, custody negotiations can break down into arguments and get ugly. Having an attorney who can advocate for your family’s best interest can make a huge difference in how much time you get to spend with your children as they grow up.

Family Matters Law Group has years of experience working with caring, devoted parents to get them more than just the standard parenting time customary to the practice. Let us help you by setting up a consultation using our online contact form. Many parents in Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties (and throughout the Atlanta metro area) have been able to spend quality time with their family with our help. We’re ready to hear your story.