Newnan Visitation Rights Attorney Works to Achieve Fair Arrangements
Georgia lawyer helps protect parents’ visitation privileges
Visitation rights typically come about in a divorce involving children but can involve any situation where a child’s parents do not live together. When one parent has sole physical custody of the child, the noncustodial parent usually can be granted the right to reasonable visitation. In other words, the parent that does not live with the children has the right to spend time with them.
In some circumstances, parents can work together and communicate regularly to create a workable visitation schedule. However, in other scenarios this may lead to conflict and a court-ordered plan may need to be in place.
A visitation order granted by a court sets an enforceable parenting plan designed to work logistically for the parents and to serve the best interest of the child. This protects the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent as well as giving the child the benefit of a continued parental relationship.
Parenting time for noncustodial parents
In Georgia, visitation is also known as parenting time. Its purpose is to allow the noncustodial parent to maintain contact and continue bonding with their children. In fact, Georgia law states that it is “the express public policy of this state to encourage that a child has continuing contact with parents.”
Given this policy, most courts grant noncustodial parents’ visitation rights. Under rare circumstances though, a judge may limit visitation rights or revoke parenting time. This is typically reserved for extreme cases where a parent is abusive or previously placed the child in danger. Sometimes a parent’s criminal record may influence this decision as well.
What factors are considered when a judge is granting a visitation order?
The best interest of the child is the primary concern in court decisions on family law issues. Some key factors considered in setting a visitation schedule include the child’s school schedule, afterschool or weekend activities and special needs, such as medical treatment or counseling. When a child is old enough, a judge may consider the child’s own preferences about spending time with the noncustodial parent.
Logistics plays another important role in visitation orders. Parents may have different work schedules or may live far apart and have transportation issues. This can influence the dates and times for visitation as well as the location where the visit takes place.
Some visitation orders are based on calendar days or weeks. For example, the noncustodial parent may have the right to see their child every Saturday. Usually, separate scheduling provisions are made for the school year and for vacations and summer recesses.
You may seek to modify a visitation order based on what you believe to be a substantial change of circumstances since the initial order was entered. You can file a petition for modification of visitation every two years.
While both parents may come to an agreement on modifying the visitation schedule, it is important for these changes to go through the formal modifications process in court. This not only protects the parents but also ensure the needs of the child are being met and proper legal protections are in place. Without the formal process, the court has no standing to enforce the informal agreement between the two parents.
Violating a visitation order can have serious consequences, especially if done repeatedly or with apparent bad motives. A judge may find the violating parent in contempt of court and order them to reimburse the other parent for legal fees. If the custodial parent is in violation, a judge may award make-up visitation time to the other parent. In cases of alleged criminal acts, the violating spouse may be subject to prosecution.
Contact an experienced family law attorney
At the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, I serve clients throughout Georgia in family law matters, including divorce, child support and child custody. Call at 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.