In the realm of family law, a common question that surfaces is, “Can a custodial parent deny visitation in Georgia?”
The short answer is no, not without legal justification.
In Georgia, both parents have an equal right to spend time with their children, unless a court order states otherwise.
And even then, if the court order has set times for visitation of the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent must follow that order, absent lawfully allowed reasons.
However, there are certain circumstances where visitation rights may be denied or restricted.
Let’s take a closer look.
When can you deny visitation to the non-custodial parent
In Georgia, a custodial parent cannot arbitrarily deny visitation to the non-custodial parent.
There must be substantial reasons for doing so, which are typically centered around the child’s best interests.
These might include situations where there is evidence of abuse, neglect, or the non-custodial parent’s inability to provide a safe environment for the child.
Additionally, if you believe this is so, it would be best practice to file for an emergency hearing with the court, to allow you to legally and temporarily keep the child from visiting with the other parent, until you are able to get a more permanent order based on the circumstances.
You will have to show evidence of the abuse or harm or danger to the child. “I feel like it is dangerous” is not enough.
Criminal charges involving abuse of children or having a TPO (temporary protective order) granted that keeps the other parent away from the child are certain types of evidence you can use.
When in doubt: talk to a local family law attorney first before you flat out deny the other parent visitation. Otherwise, you could find yourself punished by the court.
Reasons to deny visitation
There are several valid reasons that could justify the denial of visitation rights in Georgia.
Evidence of physical or emotional abuse, substance misuse, or criminal behavior by the non-custodial parent can lead to visitation being denied.
Moreover, if the non-custodial parent continuously fails to adhere to the visitation schedule, it may also result in restrictions on their visitation rights.
However, it is not wise to continue to unilaterally deny visitation without a valid change to the court order.
This is because the other parent could sue you in court for not following the court-ordered visitation and, if you cannot prove you had a lawful reason to do so, you could get fined or jailed by the court.
Can I deny visitation if there is no court order
In Georgia, even if there is no formal court order for visitation, if the parties are still married, then the non-custodial parent continues to have the right to see their child.
Denying visitation without a court order can potentially lead to legal consequences for the custodial parent later on down the line, once a divorce or separation is filed in the court, and the non-custodial seeks visitation or even full custody.
Now, if the parties were never married and the father has not been legitimated (declared by a court order to be the legal father of the parties’ child) then the mother has the full rights and abilities to deny the father any visitation whatsoever.
In those cases, the only way for the father to gain the right to visitation or custody is to file a petition for legitimation in the court system and get an order declaring him the legal father of the child, and then the court will look at visitation and custody for him.
How late can a parent be for visitation
The punctuality of a parent for visitation is a matter of respect and consideration.
In Georgia, there is no specific time limit set by law.
However, chronic lateness can be viewed negatively by the court and may impact future visitation arrangements.
Additionally, oftentimes in parenting plans there are provisions for if one parent is so many minutes late, then that parent forfeits or gives up their right to see the child for that day or time period of visitation.
Make sure you read your court order carefully when determining how tardiness could affect your rights to visitation.
What happens if the non-custodial parent misses visitation
In Georgia, if a non-custodial parent frequently misses their scheduled visitations without valid reasons, it can lead to changes in the visitation arrangement.
The court may decide to reduce their visitation rights, considering the best interest of the child.
Usually, it is up to the custodial parent to bring up this issue in court – often by filing for a brand new case of modification of custody.
This can also affect the amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent – as there are deviations for time spent with the custodial parent, which means the custodial parent pays more to raise the child, and thus the non-custodial parent will need to pay more, to make up for the times the child is not in their care.
Contempt of court child visitation Georgia
In Georgia, if a parent disobeys a court-ordered visitation schedule, they can be held in contempt of court.
This can result in fines, loss of visitation rights, or even jail time in extreme cases.
Make sure you have a lawful, valid reason before blocking visitation – talk to an attorney to find out if you do.
And, even if you do, make sure to immediately file with the courts to get an updated temporary order of custody, denying visitation (if you can), based on the evidence of harm to the child that you have.
Can you go to jail for denying visitation
Yes, in Georgia, consistently denying visitation rights without legal justification can lead to serious penalties, including incarceration.
It’s crucial to remember that visitation rights are not just for parents, but also for the child to maintain a relationship with both parents.
Navigating through child custody and visitation issues can be complex and emotionally draining.
We strongly suggest that you do not deny visitation unless you know the child is being harmed and you can prove it.
And, even if you do, make sure to seek out a trusted attorney in your area immediately, so you can best understand your rights and obligations in the State of Georgia.