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Atlanta Divorce Attorney > Blog > Child Custody > The Difference Between Legal And Physical Custody In Georgia

The Difference Between Legal And Physical Custody In Georgia


Custody is about more than just who spends time with the kids. There are two separate types of custody in Georgia: physical custody and legal custody. Understanding the difference between these two concepts will help you move forward with your divorce or custody issue with greater confidence and understanding.

Physical Custody 

Physical custody addresses where a child will live and the amount of time spent with each parent. A physical custody agreement will commonly address when parents are allowed to visit, protocols for exchanging the child, and so on.

  • Most commonly, a child will live primarily with one parent and have parenting time visits with the other

(e.g., every other weekend) or the parents to share joint physical custody where the child spends equal time with both parents (e.g., one week with mom and one week with dad alternating).  While it is possible for a parent to have sole physical custody, meaning that the child lives with one parent 100% of the time, it is rare as Courts generally prefer both parents to be involved in a child’s life, when possible.

Legal Custody

 Legal custody addresses whether a parent has access to a child’s records and information and also addresses which parent have final decision making authority regarding major decisions for a child.  Legal custody can be sole or joint.  When a parent has sole legal custody, it means that the other parent does not have a right to access information and records about the child and the parent with legal custody is not required to consult with the other parent about decisions about the child.  Like sole physical custody, this is rare.  More commonly, parents will share joint legal custody of the child.  When parents share joint legal custody, it must be decided who will have final decision making authority regarding major decisions concerning the child.  There are four categories of major decision making for a child – education, religion, extracurricular activities and medical treatment.  Sometimes one parent will have all final decision making authority and in other situations the final decision making authority may be allocated between both parents.

Finding a Qualified Custody Attorney in Atlanta

 Finding a reliable Atlanta family attorney isn’t always easy. Fortunately, you can book a consultation with Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French right now and get started with a solid action plan. We’ve helped numerous parents deal with custody-related issues over the years, and we know that custody can be more confusing than you expected. Fight for your parental rights and strive for your child’s best interests with our assistance.


O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3



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