Most people have heard at least one horror story about a custody outcome that was totally unfair. For example, an angry parent lies to the courts and finds a way to prevent their ex from having parenting time. Maybe you heard a story where one parent intentionally moved out of state in order to cut their ex off from the kids.

These kinds of stories can easily make people worry about what will happen with their children as they go through a divorce. Understanding the way that the Georgia family courts approach custody can help you feel more comfortable with the process, as such extreme outcomes are unlikely.

The primary focus in custody matters is the best interests for the children

It’s easy to get so focused on what you want that you don’t stop to think about what will be best for your kids. The courts must always consider the best interests of the children when they try to make a determination about the proper way to split up parental rights and responsibilities in a pending divorce.

The best interests of the children is a vague standard that will directly reflect the unique circumstances and needs of a family. An only child with special needs will have different requirements than a group of three siblings who are about to enter middle school and high school.

The courts want to promote independence, mental health and positive social relationships when they create a custody arrangement. In other words, they want to keep both of the child’s parents as involved in their lives as possible.

Parents who put their own needs first may look bad to the courts

Unfortunately, it is common for parents to use children like pawns in a divorce, trying to hurt one another with them or viewing custody as a way to win the proceedings. The courts take a dim view of parents who fight with very little provocation, just as they do with a parent who tries to cut the other parent out of the lives of the children.

The judge in your case will want to see that you put the kids’ needs first, not your own emotions and ego. If the courts believe you have acted out of selfishness or a desire to harm your ex, they may not rule in your favor.

For example, someone attempting to leave the state to cut the children off from their other parent might wind up losing custody if the courts determine that the move was motivated by spite. Focusing on what will make your kids healthiest and happiest can help you keep a grounded approach to your divorce and protect your role in the lives of your kids.