Parties often hesitate to divorce when minor children are involved and decide to stay together simply because of the children. However, studies have shown that parents staying together in an unhealthy relationship often has a more negative impact on the children than an amicable divorce does. If you are divorcing in Georgia and have minor children, here are some things to consider to make your divorce go smoothly.
- Determine the custody arrangements. In Georgia, there must be a determination of “legal custody”- who will be responsible for making major life decisions regarding the minor child. There must also be a determination of “physical custody”- with which parent the child(ren) will reside. Legal and physical custody can be sole, shared, primary, or secondary. You and your spouse should determine what custody arrangement you will enter into. If there is a disagreement on what custody arrangement is the best, the matter will likely need to be tried before a Judge or mediated with a neutral party.
- Determine parenting time for the non-custodial parent. Once custody is determined, the next thing to consider is the appropriate amount of parenting time (formerly known as “visitation”) for the non-custodial parent. Georgia laws promote the involvement of both parents in the lives of the minor child(ren) as long as the involvement of the parent will be to the child’s benefit. Parenting time should be consistent and should reflect the non-custodial parent’s ability to provide care and support to the the minor child(ren).
- Determine the appropriate child support amount. Georgia child support is determined by gathering the financial income of both parents, gathering the financial obligations assumed on behalf of the minor child (childcare, insurance, etc.), and calculating what is the appropriate division of financial responsibility between the parents. Calculations are made using the online child support calculator and while the number populated is the “presumptive amount”, courts have discretion to require more or less child support than the presumptive child support amount.
If you and your spouse can arrive at an agreement on the issues of custody, parenting time, and child support, uncontested divorce may be an option for you and you should consult an uncontested divorce lawyer to assist with drafting the appropriate paperwork. However, if you are in disagreement about any of the issues, you should consult an attorney immediately to determine your options.