The Law Office of Russell H. Hippe, LLC

Custody Terminology in a Georgia Divorce

  1. Joint Legal Custody – means the parties have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child - both parents must work together to make important decisions. However, in the even the divorced parents cannot agree, there must be a final decision maker (wife or husband) in the key areas of education, health care, religion and extra curricular activities. See, O.C.G.A. 19-9-6(2). The final decision maker does not always have to be the custodial parent. Atlanta Child Custody Attorney Russell Hippe has fought for an won the rights of the non-custodial parent to be the final decision maker in matters of extra curricular activity for example.

  2. Sole Custody – this means only one parent is the legal decision maker concerning all important decisions affecting the child. See, O.C.G.A. section 19-9-6(4). This parent is the one who is the sole decision maker in all critical areas of the child’s life. In a divorce trial context, this is fairly unusual and would only occur when one parent is determined to be either entirely absent in the child's lift or otherwise unfit. In a paternity or legitimation context, where the parents were never married, until there is a legitimation order, the mother is the sole legal custodian of the child.

  3. Joint Physical Custody - means that physical custody is shared by the parents in such a way as to assure the child of substantially equal time and contact with both parents. See, O.C.G.A. section 19-9-6(3). As a practical matter, it is difficult to obtain an award of joint physical custody in a contested trial. This is typically established in a settlement agreement between the parties.
  4. Custodial Parent – means the parent with whom the child resides more than 50% of the time or, if parenting time is equal, is receiving the child support (has the lesser support obligation on the child support worksheet). See, O.C.G.A. section 19-6-15(a)(9). The custodial parent is commonly referred to as the "primary physical custodian". See, Lewis v. Lewis, 252 Ga. App. 539, 557 S.E.2nd 40 (2001). The trial court can designate one parent as the "primary physical custodian". See, Sahibzada v. Sahibzada, 294 Ga. 783, 757 S.E.2nd 51 (2014). This designation can have important repercussions if the designated spouse desires to move out of state with the children.

  5. Non Custodial Parent - means the parent with whom the child resides less than 50% of the time or, if parenting time is equal, is paying the child support (has the greater support obligation on the child support worksheet). See, O.C.G.A. section 19-6-19(a)(14).
  6. Parenting time or visitation – generally refers to the time – and more particularly the schedule – that the “non custodial” parent has with the child or children.

Client Reviews
“Thanks so much Mr. Hippe for a great job. Mr. Hippe helped me with a problem with the mother of my child, who would not respect my visitation. He filed the contempt and took care of the situation before the judge in Douglas County, securing a clear order than she cannot interfere with my visitation ever again. Thanks again!” L.R. Atlanta, Georgia
“My experience with Russell Hippe has been wonderful. The first time I called him, I was in a panic not knowing what to do. He was able to see me the very next day. Two days later he filed my divorce. It has been a long road to freedom but he was available every step of the way and his conservative billing style was much appreciated. He is truly a trust worthy attorney. I will definitely recommend him to others seeking a divorce.” M.G. Atlanta, Georgia
“Mr. Russell Hippe is a fantastic lawyer. He took charge of my case involving my step children and helped my wife get custody at a contested hearing. Thanks to him my family is far better off. The children are much happier and are excelling. I can give him the highest, best recommendation as family and trial lawyer.” J.P. Atlanta, Georgia
“I can give Mr. Russell Hippe the highest recommendation. He took my divorce case, did not push me into filing, but once I decided to file, he did a great job. My wife hired a top, super expensive divorce firm, but Mr. Hippe was better, in my view. He handled discovery and depositions skillfully and managed to get the case settled on terms favorable to me. He was fair in his billing, and I know he saved me a lot of money.” S.A. Atlanta, Georgia
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