Georgia Custody & Visitation Schedule Guidelines
A custody and visitation schedule (also called a parenting time schedule) explains when children will spend time with each of their parents.
Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.
As with the overall parenting plan, parents can submit a schedule together, and the judge will approve, as long as it ensures the well-being of the children involved.
If parents can't agree, each turns in a proposed schedule. After a trial, the judge orders a schedule by selecting one of the proposals or combining them.
Choosing a type of physical custody
Physical custody refers to whom the children live with. Begin by deciding what physical custody arrangement works best for your family, and specify this in your parenting plan.
In joint physical custody, children spend nearly equal time with each parent.
In primary physical custody, children spend most of their time with one parent.
In sole physical custody, children spend all or nearly all their time with one parent. The court reserves this for extreme circumstances, like when the other parent has severe substance abuse issues. If the children shouldn't be alone with that parent, the court will require a supervisor to attend visits, called limited visitation.
The court will approve any physical custody arrangement parents agree on, so long as it doesn't put the children at risk.
If parents can't agree, judges tend to assign primary physical custody — usually to the mom, even though they can't consider gender. (This may be, partly, because moms are often the primary caregiver before a custody case.) Georgia dads are likely to get about 24 percent of parenting time, the fifth-lowest figure in the U.S., according a 2018 Custody X Change study.
To convince a judge to award you sole physical custody against the other parent's wishes, you have to prove that the children would benefit from spending limited or no time with that parent.
Writing out the details of your physical custody arrangement
A visitation schedule explains the details of your arrangement. The schedule should specify:
- If/when parents will spend time with the children on weekdays
- If/when parents will spend time with the children on weekends
- If/when parents will spend time with the children during school breaks
- If/when parents will spend time with the children on holidays and special occasions
- If/when parents can take the children on vacation
It's important to note clearly which schedules take precedence over others. For example, holiday schedules should take priority over the regular schedule. That means that if you're assigned Labor Day, you get that day with the kids regardless of whom they usually spend Mondays with.
A few more tips for writing your schedule:
- Use language that is specific, yet applicable to any year.
- Allow flexibility in unexpected situations.
- Be specific about how you'll handle missed visits.
"Dad shall have the children from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time on Thanksgiving Day during even-numbered years."
"The children shall visit Mom on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, unless circumstances necessitate otherwise."
"If Mom or Dad cannot make a visit, they shall notify the other parent at least one hour prior to the scheduled visit. Mom and Dad will then agree on a new day and time for the visit to occur."
Check if your superior court has any additional rules your visitation plan should follow.
Common visitation schedules
Georgia gives parents the freedom to create a schedule that suits their family. You can create one from scratch or look at popular parenting schedules for ideas.
Primary physical custody schedules
Below are some ideas for primary physical custody arrangements during a regular week. (The schedule often changes during summer break, when the secondary parent usually takes the kids for four to six consecutive weeks.)
Another option for a 60/40 division of parenting time is the 4-3 schedule, where children spend four days a week with the primary parent and three days with the secondary parent.
Joint physical custody schedules
The following are popular schedules for equal time with both parents.
The 2-2-5-5 schedule has children live with one parent for two days, spend the next two days with the other parent, followed by five days with the first parent, and five days with the second parent.
In the 2-2-3 schedule, children live with one parent for two days, spend the next two days with the other parent, and then return to the first parent for three days. The starting parent switches each week.
And the alternating weeks schedule has your children spend one week with each parent.
Custody and visitation schedules should take into account the children's ages. Each child within a family could have a different schedule to suit their needs.
Younger children need frequent, consistent contact with both parents to establish relationships and limit anxiety. Older children can spend more time apart from parents to account for their social lives and extracurricular activities.
Georgia parenting plans require a stipulation stating that parents will work together to modify the plan as their children grow.
The easiest way to make a schedule
If you're like most parents, creating a custody and visitation schedule will feel daunting. How do you write something that meets legal requirements and doesn't leave any loose ends?
The combination of a visual and written schedule means your family will have no problem knowing who has the children when. Take advantage of Custody X Change to make your schedule as clear and thorough as can be.