“If both parents are fit, time with both parents is essential for the wellbeing of all children. The two most important factors in a divorce with children are: 1) how much quality visitation the non-custodial parent is entitled to have with their children; and 2) how well both parents work cooperatively and encouragingly around the timeshare arrangement.”
In general, Georgia courts assume that a child should have a relationship with both biological parents. In cases of extreme abuse, there are situations that a non-custodial parent would not be awarded any visitation with their biological children. Visitation with your children must be memorialized in writing in a legal document called a Permanent Parenting Plan Order, (PPPO) that must be signed by a Superior Court Judge.
This PPPO can be created in two ways:
Technically, visitation is a legal form of “child custody” and most judges consider the factors set forth under our Child Custody Section when determining visitation periods with a non-custodial parent. Increasingly, the courts are using the term “parenting time” when issuing contested rulings regarding children instead of the term "visitation".
Not all Permanent Parenting Plan Orders are equal. This document is probably the most important document you will ever sign in your LIFETIME. A PPPO determines your future access to your child. There are no “standard” Permanent Parenting Plan Orders. Each word in a PPPO is interpreted legally.
Q: If my spouse and I agree on a visitation schedule, will the court just sign it?
A: Not necessarily. Many judges will NOT sign a PPPO that splits the children equally between the parents. A judge has 100% control of approving or denying a Permanent Parenting Plan Order. There are many things that would cause a judge to reject a PPPO and then your “uncontested divorce” is denied. Judge’s in Georgia have exclusive authority to determine what visitation is in the best interest of your children and can override what parents agree upon.
Q: Can a divorce be finalized and we figure out visitation later?
A: No, if you have children of the marriage a divorce cannot be granted without a court signing a PPPO.
Q: What if I want to just give in on visitation because I want the divorce to be done, can I just come back and change visitation?
A: No. This is a mistake many parents (usually fathers) make because they don’t want conflict during the stressful divorce process. Once you agree to a PPPO, that is accepted and signed by a judge, then you must have specific legal grounds to seek a change visitation. This forces you to file a Modification lawsuit and prove why the visitation that you agreed upon should be changed.
Q: Can I obtain visitation of my grandchild, niece or nephew?
A: Yes. In certain circumstances close relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles may seek custody.
Q: Can I obtain visitation of my step child?
A: Yes. On July 1, 2019, Georgia became one of the growing number of states that allow for an “emotional caregiver” to seek custody. The standard to seek custody under this new law is high and there are strict legal guidelines.
Q: Can I obtain visitation of my significant other’s child after we break up?
A: On July 1, 2019, Georgia became one of the growing number of states that allow for an “emotional caregiver” to seek custody. The standard to seek custody under this new law is high and there are strict legal guidelines.