2021 Georgia Code
Title 19 - Domestic Relations
Chapter 9 - Child Custody Proceedings
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 19-9-1. Parenting Plans; Requirements for Plan

Universal Citation: GA Code § 19-9-1 (2021)
  1. Except when a parent seeks emergency relief for family violence pursuant to Code Section 19-13-3 or 19-13-4, in all cases in which the custody of any child is at issue between the parents, each parent shall prepare a parenting plan or the parties may jointly submit a parenting plan. It shall be in the court's discretion as to when a party shall be required to submit a parenting plan to the court. A parenting plan shall be required for permanent custody and modification actions and in the court's discretion may be required for temporary hearings. The final order in any legal action involving the custody of a child, including modification actions, shall incorporate a permanent parenting plan as further set forth in this Code section; provided, however, that unless otherwise ordered by the court, a separate court order exclusively devoted to a parenting plan shall not be required.
    1. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, a parenting plan shall include the following:
      1. A recognition that a close and continuing parent-child relationship and continuity in the child's life will be in the child's best interest;
      2. A recognition that the child's needs will change and grow as the child matures and demonstrate that the parents will make an effort to parent that takes this issue into account so that future modifications to the parenting plan are minimized;
      3. A recognition that a parent with physical custody will make day-to-day decisions and emergency decisions while the child is residing with such parent; and
      4. That both parents will have access to all of the child's records and information, including, but not limited to, education, health, health insurance, extracurricular activities, and religious communications.
    2. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, or agreed upon by the parties, a parenting plan shall include, but not be limited to:
      1. Where and when a child will be in each parent's physical care, designating where the child will spend each day of the year;
      2. How holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, and other special occasions will be spent with each parent including the time of day that each event will begin and end;
      3. Transportation arrangements including how the child will be exchanged between the parents, the location of the exchange, how the transportation costs will be paid, and any other matter relating to the child spending time with each parent;
      4. Whether supervision will be needed for any parenting time and, if so, the particulars of the supervision;
      5. An allocation of decision-making authority to one or both of the parents with regard to the child's education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing, and if the parents agree the matters should be jointly decided, how to resolve a situation in which the parents disagree on resolution;
      6. What, if any, limitations will exist while one parent has physical custody of the child in terms of the other parent contacting the child and the other parent's right to access education, health, extracurricular activity, and religious information regarding the child; and
      7. If a military parent is a party in the case:
        1. How to manage the child's transition into temporary physical custody to a nondeploying parent if a military parent is deployed;
        2. The manner in which the child will maintain continuing contact with a deployed parent;
        3. How a deployed parent's parenting time may be delegated to his or her extended family;
        4. How the parenting plan will be resumed once the deployed parent returns from deployment; and
        5. How divisions (i) through (iv) of this subparagraph serve the best interest of the child.
  2. If the parties cannot reach agreement on a permanent parenting plan, each party shall file and serve a proposed parenting plan on or before the date set by the court. Failure to comply with filing a parenting plan may result in the court adopting the plan of the opposing party if the judge finds such plan to be in the best interests of the child.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 1685; Code 1868, § 1728; Code 1873, § 1733; Code 1882, § 1733; Civil Code 1895, § 2452; Civil Code 1910, § 2971; Code 1933, § 30-127; Ga. L. 1957, p. 412, § 1; Ga. L. 1962, p. 713, § 1; Ga. L. 1976, p. 1050, § 1; Ga. L. 1978, p. 258, § 2; Ga. L. 1983, p. 632, § 1; Ga. L. 1984, p. 22, § 19; Ga. L. 1986, p. 1000, § 1; Ga. L. 1986, p. 1036, § 1; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1368, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1656, § 1; Ga. L. 1995, p. 863, § 5; Ga. L. 1999, p. 329, § 3; Ga. L. 2000, p. 1292, § 1; Ga. L. 2007, p. 554, § 5/HB 369; Ga. L. 2011, p. 274, § 2/SB 112; Ga. L. 2013, p. 553, § 2/SB 1; Ga. L. 2016, p. 222, § 1/HB 52.)

The 2016 amendment, effective July 1, 2016, substituted "court" for "judge" throughout this Code section and, in subsection (a), twice substituted "court's" for "judge's" in the second and third sentences and, in the fourth sentence, substituted "order" for "decree" near the beginning and added "as further set forth in this Code section; provided, however, that unless otherwise ordered by the court, a separate court order exclusively devoted to a parenting plan shall not be required" at the end.

Cross references.

- Parenting plan, Uniform Rules for the Superior Courts of Georgia, Rule 24.10.

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2007, p. 554, § 1/HB 369, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "The General Assembly of Georgia declares that it is the policy of this state to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interests of their children and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage or relationship."

Ga. L. 2007, p. 554, § 8/HB 369, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that the amendment to this Code section shall apply to all child custody proceedings and modifications of child custody filed on or after January 1, 2008.

Ga. L. 2011, p. 274, § 1/SB 112, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Military Parents Rights Act.'"

Law reviews.

- For article recommending more consistency in age requirements of laws pertaining to the welfare of minors, see 6 Ga. St. B.J. 189 (1969). For article, "The Child as a Party in Interest in Custody Proceedings," see 10 Ga. St. B.J. 577 (1974). For article surveying Georgia cases dealing with domestic relations from June 1977 through May 1978, see 30 Mercer L. Rev. 59 (1978). For annual survey on law of domestic relations, see 42 Mercer L. Rev. 201 (1990). For article, "Domestic Relations Law," see 53 Mercer L. Rev. 265 (2001). For survey article on domestic relations cases for the period from June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003, see 55 Mercer L. Rev. 223 (2003). For annual survey of domestic relations law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 221 (2004). For survey article on domestic relations law, see 59 Mercer L. Rev. 139 (2007). For note on 1992 amendment of this Code section, see 9 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 243 (1992). For comment on Bodrey v. Cape, 120 Ga. App. 859, 172 S.E.2d 643 (1969), see 7 Ga. St. B.J. 256 (1970).



  • General Consideration
  • Trial Judge's Discretion Generally
  • Award of Custody
  • Parental Fitness
  • Award of Custody to Third Party
  • Selection by Child
  • Change of Custody
  • Visitation Rights


Permanent custody determination upon divorce being entered.

- When a superior court transfers the question of custody determination to a juvenile court pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-11-6(b), the juvenile court may make only a temporary custody determination pending the outcome of the divorce action; but if the divorce is entered it can then make a permanent custody determination. 1994 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U94-1.


Relocation of Children by the Custodial Parent, 65 Am. Jur. Trials 127.


- Attempt to bastardize child as affecting right to custody of the child, 4 A.L.R. 1119; 37 A.L.R. 531.

Validity of agreement by parent to surrender custody of child in consideration of promise to leave property to child, 15 A.L.R. 223.

Attempt to bastardize child as affecting right to custody of the child, 37 A.L.R. 531.

Action between parents for the sole purpose of determining custody of child as a proper remedy, 40 A.L.R. 940.

Condition of health of child as consideration in awarding custody, 48 A.L.R. 137.

Power of court to modify the provisions of its decree respecting custody of child as affected by absence of parent or child from its territorial jurisdiction, 70 A.L.R. 526.

Extraterritorial effect of provisions in decree of divorce as to custody of child, 72 A.L.R. 441.

Jurisdiction acquired by court in divorce suit over custody and maintenance of child as excluding jurisdiction of other local courts, or as rendering its exercise improper, 146 A.L.R. 1153.

Induction into military service of one to whom custody of children has been awarded in divorce suit, 151 A.L.R. 1498; 155 A.L.R. 1477; 156 A.L.R. 1476, 157 A.L.R. 1472, 158 A.L.R. 1489, 158 A.L.R. 1490.

Decree for alimony in installments as within full faith and credit provision, 157 A.L.R. 170.

Extraterritorial effect of provision in decree of divorce as to custody of child, 160 A.L.R. 400.

Jurisdiction of trial or appellate court in respect of custody of children pending appeal from order or decree in divorce suit, 163 A.L.R. 1319.

Jurisdiction to award custody of child having legal domicil in another state, 4 A.L.R.2d 7.

Material facts existing at the time of rendition of decree of divorce but not presented to court, as ground for modification of provision as to custody of child, 9 A.L.R.2d 623.

Nonresidence as affecting one's right to custody of child, 15 A.L.R.2d 432.

Power of court, on its own motion, to modify provisions of divorce decree as to custody of children, upon application for other relief, 16 A.L.R.2d 664.

Alienation of child's affections as affecting custody award, 32 A.L.R.2d 1005.

Consideration of investigation by welfare agency or the like in making or modifying award as between parents of custody of children, 35 A.L.R.2d 629.

Right to custody of child as affected by death of custodian appointed by divorce decree, 39 A.L.R.2d 258.

Remarriage of parent as ground for modification of divorce decree as to custody of child, 43 A.L.R.2d 363.

Opening or modification of divorce decree as to custody or support of child not provided for in the decree, 71 A.L.R.2d 1370.

Complete denial of visitation rights of divorced parent, 88 A.L.R.2d 148; 51 A.L.R.3d 520; 22 A.L.R.4th 971.

"Split," "divided," or "alternate" custody of children, 92 A.L.R.2d 695.

Violation of custody or visitation provision of agreement or decree as affecting child support payment provision, and vice versa, 95 A.L.R.2d 118.

Propriety of court conducting private interview with child in determining custody, 99 A.L.R.2d 954.

Child's wishes as factor in awarding custody, 4 A.L.R.3d 1396.

Power of court which denied divorce, legal separation, or annulment, to award custody or make provisions for support of child, 7 A.L.R.3d 1096.

Award of custody of child to parent against whom divorce is decreed, 23 A.L.R.3d 6.

Award of custody of child where contest is between child's father and grandparent, 25 A.L.R.3d 7.

Award of custody of child where contest is between child's mother and grandparent, 29 A.L.R.3d 366.

Award of custody of child where contest is between child's grandparent and one other than the child's parent, 30 A.L.R.3d 290.

Divorce: necessity of notice of application for temporary custody of child, 31 A.L.R.3d 1378.

Noncustodial parent's rights as respects education of child, 36 A.L.R.3d 1093.

Right, in child custody proceedings, to cross-examine investigating officer whose report is used by court in its decision, 59 A.L.R.3d 1337.

Effect, in subsequent proceedings, of paternity findings or implications in divorce or annulment decree or in support or custody order made incidental thereto, 78 A.L.R.3d 846.

Right to require psychiatric or mental examination for party seeking to obtain or retain custody of child, 99 A.L.R.3d 268.

Custodial parent's sexual relations with third person as justifying modification of child custody order, 100 A.L.R.3d 625; 65 A.L.R.5th 591.

Validity and effect, as between former spouses, of agreement releasing parent from payment of child support provided for in an earlier divorce decree, 100 A.L.R.3d 1129.

Admissibility of social worker's expert testimony on child custody issues, 1 A.L.R.4th 837.

Visitation rights of persons other than natural parents or grandparents, 1 A.L.R.4th 1270.

Parent's physical disability or handicap as factor in custody award or proceedings, 3 A.L.R.4th 1044.

Initial award or denial of child custody to homosexual or lesbian parent, 6 A.L.R.4th 1297.

Race as factor in custody award or proceedings, 10 A.L.R.4th 796.

Desire of child as to geographical location of residence or domicile as factor in awarding custody or terminating parental rights, 10 A.L.R.4th 827.

Necessity of requiring presence in court of both parties in proceedings relating to custody or visitation of children, 15 A.L.R.4th 864.

Religion as factor in child custody and visitation cases, 22 A.L.R.4th 971.

Effect of remarriage of spouses to each other on child custody and support provisions of prior divorce decree, 26 A.L.R.4th 325.

Interference by custodian of child with noncustodial parent's visitation rights as ground for change of custody, 28 A.L.R.4th 9.

Court-authorized permanent or temporary removal of child by parent to foreign country, 30 A.L.R.4th 548.

Visitation rights of homosexual or lesbian parent, 36 A.L.R.4th 997.

Primary caretaking role of respective parents as factor in awarding custody of child, 41 A.L.R.4th 1129.

Mother's status as "working mother" as factor in awarding child custody, 62 A.L.R.4th 259.

Withholding visitation rights for failure to make alimony or support payments, 65 A.L.R.4th 1155.

Child custody: separating children by custody awards to different parents - post 1975 cases, 67 A.L.R.4th 354.

Rights and obligations resulting from human artificial insemination, 83 A.L.R.4th 295.

Child custody: when does state that issued previous custody determination have continuing jurisdiction under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), 28 USCS § 1738A, 83 A.L.R.4th 742.

Child custody and visitation rights of person infected with AIDS, 86 A.L.R.4th 211.

Denial or restriction of visitation rights to parent charged with sexually abusing child, 1 A.L.R.5th 776.

Significant connection jurisdiction of court under § 3(a)(2) of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), 28 USCS § 1738A(c)(2)(B), 5 A.L.R.5th 550, 67 A.L.R.5th 1.

Abandonment and emergency jurisdiction of court under § 3(a)(3) of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), 28 USCS § 1738A(c)(2)(C), 5 A.L.R.5th 788.

Continuity of residence as factor in contest between parent and nonparent for custody of child who has been residing with nonparent - modern status, 15 A.L.R.5th 692.

Age of parent as factor in awarding custody, 34 A.L.R.5th 57.

Validity and construction of provisions for arbitration of disputes as to alimony or support payments or child visitation or custody matters, 38 A.L.R.5th 69.

Mental health of contesting parent as factor in award of child custody, 53 A.L.R.5th 375.

Custodial parent's relocation as grounds for change of custody, 70 A.L.R.5th 377.

Child custody and visitation rights arising from same-sex relationship, 80 A.L.R.5th 1.

Religion as factor in visitation cases, 95 A.L.R.5th 533.

Restrictions on parent's child visitation rights based on parent's sexual conduct, 99 A.L.R.5th 475.

Religion as factor in child custody cases, 124 A.L.R.5th 203.

Availability and use of electronic communication in child custody and visitation determinations, 96 A.L.R.6th 103.

Sufficiency of evidence to modify existing joint legal custody of children pursuant to consent order or divorce judgment - general principles, jurisdictional issues, and general issues related to "best interests of child," 99 A.L.R.6th 203.

Sufficiency of evidence to modify existing joint legal custody of children pursuant to consent order or divorce judgment - conduct or condition of parents; evidentiary issues, 100 A.L.R.6th 1.

Comment note: In camera examination or interview of child in custody proceedings, 9 A.L.R.7th 6.

Construction and application of International Child Abduction Remedies Act (42 USCS § 11601 et seq.), 125 A.L.R. Fed. 217.

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