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A Guide to Parenting Plans in Georgia Child Custody Cases

In Georgia, whenever child custody becomes an issue, a parenting plan is a legal necessity. This document, also referred to as a custody agreement, acts as a roadmap for how parents will continue to cooperate in raising their children despite living in separate households.

Parenting plans are unique to each family’s situation, but these key elements are usually included in a carefully drafted plan:

  • Parenting schedule — The plan should detail drop-off and pick-up times, locations for these exchanges and who is responsible for transporting the child.
  • Physical custody — The plan will specify the child’s primary residence and identify the parent who acts as the primary caregiver. It may call for primary physical custody (one parent has the majority of parenting time), joint physical custody (parenting time is split roughly equally) or sole physical custody (in circumstances where one parent having minimal contact is deemed best for the child’s well-being).
  • Legal custody — This defines each parent’s decision-making authority over the child’s upbringing. Legal custody can be joint, meaning both parents share decision-making power, or sole, granted to one parent in specific situations.
  • Child support — The plan should describe the financial responsibility for the child’s essential needs, such as education, healthcare and extracurricular activities is clearly outlined.
  • Contingency plans — This part of the plan addresses the handling of unexpected events and circumstances. For example, it should specify how pickups will occur if the child is absent from school on an exchange day or who will stay home if the child falls sick.
  • Holiday schedule — Important dates like holidays and traditional family celebrations should be accounted for, so that each parent gets quality time with the child on important occasions.
  • Vacations — Guidelines for school breaks and vacation time should be established, including allowed durations of trips with each parent and a notification timeframe for planned vacations.
  • Extracurricular Activities — The plan should address how organized social activities or sports participation will be managed, including financial responsibility and transportation arrangements.

To the extent possible, parents should work together to create a consent parenting plan that addresses their situations and. As long as the agreed-upon plan prioritizes the child’s health, safety and well-being, the judge will likely approve it as a final court order.

However, if no consensus can be reached, each parent submits a proposed plan to the court. The judge will consider both proposals and ultimately impose a plan. This could be a combination of elements from both proposed plans or an entirely new plan based on the judge’s own criteria.

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged, and resolution requires a supportive and experienced family law attorney who can guide you toward a parenting plan that prioritizes your interests and your child’s well-being. 

The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan is dedicated to helping Georgia clients with child custody issues and other family law matters. Call us today at 470-344-8550 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.