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Child's best interest in child custody case trumps equal time

In Georgia or any other jurisdiction, child custody disputes are not amenable to formulistic resolutions. To say that all child custody arrangements should be based on an equal sharing of time by the parents is to deny the basic uniqueness of each family's situation that comes before a court. Child custody is best determined by a judge who delves into the specifics of the case and makes an informed decision, based on sufficient fact-finding, regarding what would be best for the particular children under the given circumstances.

It is understandable that certain groups have been lobbying for joint custody to be automatically awarded in all cases. In the past, the mother has been routinely favored for custody in the face of a wide variety of facts, some of which did not warrant that outcome. The answer is to adopt a system that recognizes both parents' rights, but that also inquires into the details of the particular situation to find the best interest of the children involved.

This may indeed result in a majority of cases in which the mother is awarded primary physical custody. However, it may be that in a majority of families the children would have a greater sense of continuity and security by remaining with the mother, particularly in cases in which she was the main homemaker over an extended period. Notwithstanding that fact, it is also true that the traditional roles are far more flexible now, and fathers have, in some instances, become prominent figures in the lives of the children.

Many states now have a system that presumes joint custody as the preferred arrangement. That is okay as long as the system is readily open to disregarding the presumption in cases in which a parent believes that there is good reason for receiving primary physical child custody. If the parent can prove that the traditional arrangement of primary custody, with some variation of weekend visits, would be the best thing for the children on a long-term basis, then the court should be willing to override the presumption. Theoretically at least, that is the general concept and intended procedure that molds most state court child custody conflicts, including those in Georgia.

Source: rgj.com, "Equal time shouldn't be goal of custody agreements", John Rosemond, Feb. 16, 2015

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