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When you say you want custody of your kids, what do you mean?

You make an appointment with a local Valdosta divorce attorney. When you tell her you want a divorce and want custody of your children, she asks you what you mean. It might sound like a daft question, but it’s not. Custody is not as simple as it may seem.

Under Georgia law, there are two types of custody:

Physical custody means who your children will live with. Legal custody means who has the right to make decisions on behalf of the children.

Just because you are the mom, does not give you preference in the eyes of the law. A judge is required to treat you and your husband equally when deciding child custody. Her priority has to be deciding what is best for your children.

Do you have to fight for custody? Not necessarily. It is best to think about it as something to share, rather than something you win or lose.

A judge will generally award joint legal custody unless there is a significant reason to cut one parent out of a child’s life completely — such as severe drug addiction or abusive behavior.

Physical custody can be awarded to one parent only or shared between both. If you have sole physical custody, it means the children will live with you most of the time. Their father would be awarded visitation rights, perhaps on weekends and in holidays. Alternatively, you may wish to share physical custody, meaning the children take turns to stay with each parent. A Valdosta family law attorney can help you understand your options.