What Are the Child Visitation Laws in Georgia?

When getting a divorce, parents must decide on various child custody issues, such as who will live with the child and who will make crucial decisions on their behalf. They also must decide when and how often the non-custodial parent will visit the child based on the child’s best interests.

Creating a child visitation schedule can be challenging, necessitating the input and legal guidance of skilled family law attorneys in Alpharetta. Lawyers can oversee the agreement and ensure the rights of both parents are upheld in spending time with the child. They will also help you create a plan within child custody and visitation laws.

Visitation Rights in Georgia

Child custody laws in Georgia regulate who is eligible to have visitation rights and how much time the parent granted these rights can spend with the child. Generally, courts in Georgia give both parents joint legal custody, mandating them to make crucial decisions in their children’s lives.

Unfortunately, situations arise in which one parent gets sole physical custody, and the other becomes the non-custodial parent. The parent with sole physical custody lives with the child exclusively, while the non-custodial parent gets visitation rights.

It is crucial to understand what these rights entail and what happens if either of you violates them. That’s why it’s advisable to consult experienced child custody lawyers in Alpharetta when creating a visitation schedule to ensure you do the right thing.

What is a Typical Parenting Schedule in Georgia?

If you and your ex-spouse are amicable about child custody, you can create a visitation plan that the court will have no objection enforcing. The three main elements you must be sure to capture in the schedule are:

  • A residential program for the weekdays and weekends
  • A holiday schedule that covers significant holidays and special events
  • A summer break plan that outlines who spends time with the child during school breaks

The parenting plan should also capture detailed information about how each parent can request child custody modification if there is a change of circumstances.

What to Include in the Parenting Plan?

In more specific detail, a visitation schedule should explain the details of your arrangement, including the following:

  • How to share physical custody of the child: It’s crucial to clarify how you and the other parent will share physical custody of the child and if either parent can take the child on vacation away from the child’s residential or school district.
  • How to make decisions concerning the child’s care: Both parents must agree on how to make decisions about the care of their child. Will you have an equal say, or will one parent have the final word?
  • How to communicate with each other about the child: Will communication be by phone, text, or email? Will you have a joint account for the child’s living expenses? Deciding on these things in advance is crucial to prevent misunderstandings later.
  • How to handle disagreements: You and your ex-spouse must agree on what will happen when one parent wants something different for the child than the other parent. Having a clear plan for dealing with disagreements will prevent issues from escalating or having to file a petition to have the court decide.

Overall, the parenting plan should be based on the child’s best interests. Skilled Alpharetta child custody lawyers can oversee the process and guide you to ensure you draft the best possible plan.

Age-Based Considerations for Making a Visitation Schedule

In creating a visitation schedule or parenting plan, it’s crucial to consider the children’s ages. Each child in a family could have a different visitation schedule to meet their needs. Younger children need more frequent and consistent contact with both parents to build strong relationships and limit anxiety.

Older children could be limited by their extra-curricular activities and social lives. Both parents should work together and modify their plans as the children grow.

What Happens If Parents Can’t Agree on a Parenting Plan

If you can’t agree on a parenting plan that works for both of you, the court will issue a schedule you must adhere to. While no legislative-mandated parenting schedule exists in Georgia, most judges primarily use a standard program.

Typical court-order schedules grant non-custodial parents time with the child from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday on alternating weekends. The same applies to holidays, from 6 p.m. on the first day to 6 p.m. on the last day, alternating even and odd years.

Court-ordered parenting schedules represent the minimum time granted to the non-custodial parent. If you disagree with the assigned days, you can negotiate with the other parent for more time. If they’re not agreeable, engage the services of skilled Alpharetta child custody attorneys to resolve the issue.

What Are the General Guidelines for Creating a Visitation Schedule?

Generally, here are some things to keep in mind when creating a parenting schedule:

  • Georgia has a gender-neutral guideline for custody, and neither the mother nor father has an advantage in the custody decision. The court makes a ruling based on the child’s best interests.
  • The child’s general well-being and happiness are the court’s first priority, not what is convenient for the parents.
  • The child has a right to have contact with both parents and grandparents unless there is a compelling reason they should not.
  • When a child is 11, the child can be allowed to express a preference about the parent they wish to live with, and the court will consider this.
  • A child can choose the parent to live with when they are 14.

Seek Professional Help in Creating an Effective Visitation Schedule

Creating a visitation schedule with your ex can be taxing. In many cases, custody negotiations can get ugly, but having a family law attorney can help you uphold your child’s best interests while putting aside your differences as parents. If the matter escalates, your lawyers can help you file a petition to let the court decide on your behalf.

Our law firm provides our clients with the support and legal counsel they need in their child custody cases. We know that few things are as important as your child’s well-being, and we want to help you fight for a favorable outcome. Contact the Hecht Family Law firm at (470) 291-5342 to schedule an initial case evaluation with Alpharetta child custody lawyers.