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Custody laws unfair to fathers? Recent poll suggests it's time for a change.

You are not entitled to equal time with your children in a child custody dispute. There is no legal presumption of 50/50 equal time. This is the law as it stands in Georgia and throughout most of the United States. Meriwether & Tharp recently commissioned a study in Atlanta, Georgia that overwhelmingly suggests it may be time to reconsider this notion.

How is Child Custody Decided?

Currently, O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(3) provides that when the parties cannot agree to a custody arrangement, a Georgia trial court should make the decision based upon the general concept of what is in the best interest of a child. The statute goes on to provide 12 factors that a court should evaluate to make their decision on what is in the best interests of the child. Ultimately, it is up to the judge's discretion to decide what the general "standard" parenting arrangement should be for two otherwise fit, involved parents. Consequently, parents are subject to the individual biases of their particular judge, which can, and often does, vary from county to county and even judge to judge within a specific county. Currently, a legal presumption for a particular default custody arrangement does not exist in Georgia.

Father’s Rights Implications

Historically, the not so hidden default system provided that a father was only to be granted physical custody every other weekend. With no legal presumption of 50/50 time, the father and his attorney were often left trying to prove to the court why more time or equal time is in the best interests of the child. Many recent studies have shown that it may be beneficial for children of divorced parents to develop a close daily relationship with both parents. Accordingly, there has been an emerging trend towards shared custody with both parents receiving nearly equal time with their children.

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M&T commissioned a study that was conducted by Cox Custom Research to evaluate this exact question and learn where the citizens of Georgia stand. Specifically, the survey asked:

"In the legal system, a legal presumption is a rule of law which allows a court to assume a particular fact is true unless proven false by a majority of evidence against it. In your opinion, should the state of Georgia pass a bill to establish a legal presumption that 50-50 Shared Custody is in the best interest of the child in a divorce case and that equal parenting time should be given to both parents?"

explaining how survey was conducted - Can we use Cox's logo here? For credibility?

The study was conducted by Cox Custom Research between October 7 and October 17, 2019, using an independent panel of over 1000 individuals supplied by Market Cube. The criteria for completes were that respondents be ages 25 to 64 that live in the greater Atlanta, Georgia metro area (as defined by county).

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Further reading on the subject and hire us - link out to Custody pages and Firm Overview

For further reading on this subject please read our pages on how child custody decisions are made, joint custody, physical custody, visitation & parenting time and father's rights. If you have a child custody issue that you'd like to speak with an attorney about, please contact us (678-879-9000) for a free telephone consultation with one of our child custody lawyers.

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