A question I hear is DOES THE MOTHER ALWAYS GET THE KIDS? The answer is No. In Georgia gender is not a consideration when determining the custodial arrangement of the children. The statutes in Georgia are gender neutral and contrary to popular belief the father is as likely to obtain custody as the mother. The court does not consider the sex of the parent but the best interest of the child, so it is not the gender that usually comes into play but the ability of the parent to care for the child. Sometimes this is easy, as in cases in which one of the parents is dealing with addiction or a deviant life style, or more tragically, is abusive to the children. However, in private divorce actions the issues are usually more subtle and the courts look at the ability of the parents to care for the children.
Much is determined by the age of the child, for example, if the court is focused on an infant who is breast feeding an attorney would be lying if he or she claims she could get the father custody; regardless of the fact that they are screaming on the radio that they specialize in father’s rights, there is no such thing, both parent’s have equal rights. If the children are not physically dependent on one or the other parent other factors such as ability to care for the child, provide housing, stability of income and housing children’s’ desires all come into play. This usually will involve the appointment of a third party known as a guardian ad litem who will represent the children and make a recommendation to the court.
In my practice I have successfully obtained primary custody for both mothers and fathers and the factors vary. The one thing that does not vary is that both parents have an equal claim to primary custody and the only factor the court considers is the best interest of the children.