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Could Georgia mandate 50/50 custody? What you should know about the bill that could make it possible

Representative Jasmine Clark says the bill is back in the drafting stage and it will go before the house sometime this year.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — When Georgia couples with children divorce, current law presumes that the mother should keep custody, unless the judge finds reason to rule against her.

House Bill 96 could scrap that and mandate 50/50 custody if a judge decides it's in the best interest of the child.

Geoffrey Bond says he found hope in House Bill 96.

"Well, I heard about the bill after my trial, after going through all that kind of heartache. I was looking for resources to see what could help me," he said.

Bond has a 10-year-old son who lives primarily with his mother.

After doing his own research and even speaking with the bill's sponsor, Bond says it would balance the system, and even help his case.

"There doesn't need to be a system where parents feel like they're at war with each other when they go to court, whether there's a winner or a loser. There should be a system that's looking for the best interest," he said.

With House Bill 96, it will presume 50/50 custody is the best course of action-- unless there is evidence otherwise. Judges who determine that equal shared parenting is not in the child's best interest would have to explain why in their order.

"Mothers get the majority of custody in our state and fathers who want custody in our state usually have an uphill legal battle to get more than a once a week and every other weekend," Representative Clark said.

Atlanta state Representative Jasmine Clark introduced the bill in 2019.
She says it’s really a way to level the playing field for fathers.

She says inevitably, other conversations will like domestic violence and child support will arise, "And obviously, if we're dealing with a domestic violence situation or something that is clearly not good for the child, I hope would hope judges would be very mindful of that,” she continued.

Kentucky passed a shared parenting bill -- Clark says the data from that shows an increased compliance in child support and a reduction in domestic violence cases.

The bill has died in Georgia twice. 

Clark says she's back in the drafting stage and it will go before the house sometime this year.

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