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HOME   State Custody Excerpts

    (a)(1) In all cases in which the custody of any minor child or
    children is at issue between the parents, there shall be no
    prima-facie right to the custody of the child or children in the
    father or mother.
    (2) The court hearing the issue of custody, in exercise of its
    sound discretion, may take into consideration all the
    circumstances of the case, including the improvement of the health
    of the party seeking a change in custody provisions, in
    determining to whom custody of the child or children should be
    awarded.  The duty of the court in all such cases shall be to
    exercise its discretion to look to and determine solely what is
    for the best interest of the child or children and what will best
    promote their welfare and happiness and to make its award
    (4) In all custody cases in which the child has reached the age of
    14 years, the child shall have the right to select the parent with
    whom he or she desires to live.  The child's selection shall be
    controlling unless the parent so selected is determined not to be
    a fit and proper person to have the custody of the child.
    (4.1) In all custody cases in which the child has reached the age
    of at least 11 but not 14 years, the court shall consider the
    desires and educational needs of the child in determining which
    parent shall have custody.  The child's selection shall not be
    controlling.  The best interests of the child standard shall
    (5) Joint custody, as defined by Code Section 19-9-6, may be
    considered as an alternative form of custody by the court.  This
    provision allows a court at any temporary or permanent hearing to
    grant sole custody, joint custody, joint legal custody, or joint
    physical custody where appropriate.
  (d) It is the express policy of this state to encourage that a minor
  child has continuing contact with parents and grandparents who have
  shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to
  encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of
  raising their children after such parents have separated or
  dissolved their marriage.

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