What is the best interest of the child standard? I know I've mentioned that in several of my previous blog posts. I have stressed that it is the standard for determining custody by the court.
So, what is it exactly? In the state of Georgia, the legislature has set out in statute, which means law, a set of factors that the court must use when they determine custody of a child.
First and foremost, there is no presumption that either parent has a superior custody right to the child. In other words, there's no favor under the law that mothers will always receive custody or that fathers will always receive custody. Additionally, there is no presumption under the law that there is any particular type of custody that is favored. So, there is no favor for sole custody or joint custody. It is completely left to the best interest of the child standard.
There are 17 factors that are listed out. So, I won't go through all 17 of those factors, but basically, they boil down to several different categories.
First would be what is best for the child as far as their stability. That is what would keep their life as normal as possible.
With regard to the parents, are they able to provide for the child physically, emotionally and financially. And with regard to financially, it does assume that there will to be child support to help support that child. The court will look at if there are any kind of violence or abuse issues that would affect the child.
They will look for stability of the child as far as school and home and friends and family. The court will look to see which parent can maintain a relationship for the child with the other parent.
If the court appoints what is called a guardian ad litem, it will consider those recommendations. A guardian ad litem is someone appointed by the court to look to the child's best interest and provide the court with a report. I will do separate blog posts on the guardian ad litem.
But the court is looking to see that the child is going to retain their bonds, especially to family, but to friends as well.
If you are interested in looking at the seventeen factors, I am sure you can find them online. Or you can talk to your attorney about it. Your attorney will help you understand what issues the judge is going to look at and try to present your favorable factors to the court so that the court can decide.
It's always a judge, never a jury, that decides anything about custody.
I hope that helped clear up some of the questions about what the best interest of the child standard is. If you think this will help someone else please share, and if you would like more information about divorce and family law in Georgia please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Nedra K. Howard
Nedra has represented clients in matters relating to divorce, separate maintenance, child custody and support, family violence protective orders, adoption, prenuptial agreements, business disputes and litigation, personal injury, property damage, and wills.
John B. MIller & Associates, P.C.
16 Eastbrook Bend, Suite 201
Peachtree City, GA 30269
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