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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Child custody issues may be better settled using parenting plans

When settlers first immigrated to the United States, they generally held to the traditional English law that dictated that fathers were to raise the children in the event of a divorce. By the early 1900s, mothers became the one believed to be the most capable of parenting, so they were regularly awarded child custody in the vast majority of cases. Now many states, including Georgia, have made provisions that encourage parents to divide responsibilities and settle custody matters themselves through the use of parenting plans.

The parent better suited for sole custody has bounced back and forth for many years. After U.S. divorce rate started to climb in the 1960s, courts began considering both parents as necessary to a child’s well being. As a result, the courts were compelled to approach custody decisions based on the rather subjective idea of what was in a child’s best interest.

However, recently, the courts have shown an increasing tendency to treat both parents as equally important in the care and raising of children. Children who are raised in the presence of both parents tend to experience fewer negative aspects of a marriage dissolution. In light of this changed perspective, many states are now requiring separating parents to devise their own parenting plans. These plans allow parents to work out what is in their child’s best interests while stipulating, in writing, what role each parent will play in his or her child’s life.

There are as many parenting plans as there are families, with no two plans exactly alike. Furthermore, parents can choose to work out their agreements on their own or can choose from a variety of available templates. Understandably, some Georgia families may find it difficult to work out the details of their shared child custody plans on their own. These parents do have the option to refer to knowledgeable professionals who can provide help through mediation or other similar methods.

Source: The Washington Post, “There’s a great way to figure out child custody. Most divorce courts don’t use it.“, J. Herbie DiFonzo, Nov. 14, 2014