World-famous musician and composer Stevie Wonder has filed papers seeking the dissolution of his 11-year marriage to fashion designer Kai Millard Morris. The papers reveal that the couple have been separated since 2009. They have two young sons. Wonder has asked for joint custody of the two boys.

In the months ahead, Wonder and Morris will face many of same issues that face Georgia couples dealing with a divorce. Among those issues, child custody is often the most bitter and contentious.

Georgia courts tend to favor joint legal custody, in which one parent has primary custody and the other has secondary custody. But other options are available. In some cases the court will award joint custody, in which both parents have primary custody. For some families the best option is sole custody, in which one parent has primary custody and the other has visitation rights. Courts will consider the circumstances of the individual family and the best interests of the child in coming up with the best option.

Life doesn't stand still after a divorce, and child custody plans sometimes have to change. When one spouse wants to relocate, a new plan is usually in order. And sometimes changes in a parent's lifestyle, like the onset of alcohol or drug abuse, compel the other spouse to seek modification of an existing plan. In all cases, Georgia courts put the best interests of the children first.

Child custody disputes can be heartbreaking for all involved. The best outcome is for both spouses to agree on a plan that is in the child's best interest. If that proves impossible, then the courts can step in to make decisions.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Stevie Wonder files for divorce," August 4, 2012