When a Georgia couple with children begins experiencing marital difficulties, it is not unusual to have conversations about staying together for the sake of the kids. Even after divorce, however, the couple will soon realize that divorced parents of children will be tied together forever, most particularly when the kids are minors. No matter what the nature of the relationship between the exes is, one parent cannot deny the other visitation for frivolous or other non-serious reasons.
The final disposition regarding child custody and visitation becomes an order of the court. The parents have an opportunity to mutually agree on the outcome or are able to voice their opinions if it is a contested issue. Absent some imminent safety concern to the child, family law commentators indicate that the visitation schedule must be adhered to. It can only be changed by returning to court and petitioning for a new order.
A commonly heard complaint concerns cases where one parent is behind on child support payments. Although the parent owed support has enforcement rights regarding the money owed, it is unquestionably improper and illegal to withhold visitation pending compliance with ordered support payments. Similarly, not getting along with the other parent, not approving of the other’s lifestyle or even the preferences of the child are not legally defensible reasons to withhold visitation.
The initial decisions regarding property division, child custody, support and visitation, along with spousal support where appropriate, are important as the couple moves toward establishing separate lives. However, an experienced family law attorney may explain how when circumstances change, it might be appropriate to go back to court and explain how the best interests of the child now require a different arrangement.