When parents divorce or separate, they must create an agreement known as a parenting plan. This plan gives each party certain rights and responsibilities related to their children, including visitation rights for a non-custodial parent, also referred to as parenting time.
However, parenting time is not set in stone, meaning that a parenting plan can be modified for any number of reasons. If you are looking to better understand your rights when creating a parenting plan—or if you are looking to modify your current schedule—an Atlanta visitation lawyer could help. A skilled attorney could explain your rights and work tirelessly to explain protect them during negotiations.
Parents in Georgia may be granted physical custody, legal custody, or both. Physical custody allows a parent to decide where a child will live, as well as having control over numerous aspects of the child’s daily life.
Legal custody, on the other hand, allows the parent to make significant decisions about a child’s life and upbringing, including where the child will attend school, their religious upbringing, and necessary medical decisions.
When a sole parent has both forms of custody, the other parent is often entitled to visitation. Under these circumstances, the non-custodial parent will have scheduled parenting time with their child.
Parents who need to create a custody agreement or parenting plan have the right to negotiate the terms themselves before a judge gets involved. While the court in any custody case has the ultimate say in whether an agreement is in the best interests of the children and, therefore, whether it should be approved, Georgia law encourages parents to decide these issues for themselves.
If parents cannot decide on visitation or custody rights, however, a judge will review the family’s history and enter an order on the parents’ behalf. Among several other criteria, the court will examine:
Visitation rights are not permanent and can be modified for many reasons. If the custodial parent is endangering or neglecting the children, for example, the non-custodial parent could file a motion and ask the court to change their agreement.
As an example, a parent might ask the court to curtail the other parent’s visitation time if the other parent uses drugs or alcohol in their children’s presence. Similarly, a court may decide to punish a parent by restricting their visitation rights if the individual refuses to drop off the children at the scheduled time and location.
It is important to note that a parent’s obligation to pay child support and their right to parenting time with their child is unrelated. Therefore, the custodial parent cannot refuse visitation rights for the non-custodial parent if their support payments are late or overdue.
Negotiating child custody, visitation, or other issues can be highly emotional. As a result, you may have difficulty creating a parenting plan with a clear mind during custody negotiations. However, by working with an Atlanta visitation lawyer, you could have help in clarifying each step and determining what is best for you and your child.
A well-practiced attorney could act as an intermediary between you and your child’s other parent, which might help you to reach a mutually-beneficial resolution. To schedule a consultation, call today.