Third Party Determination of Child Custody: Can a person other than the Court determine who has custody of a child? The answer is no!
Consider this case were the parties agreed to Third Party Determination of Child Custody : In the case of Johnson v. Johnson, the parties to a divorce went to trial and incorporated into their settlement, a provision whereby the parenting plan provided that the child’s therapist solely had the authority to determine the termination of supervision of the father’s overnight visitation with the child.
The Supreme Court of Georgia provided that any provision where there is a material change in visitation, and any provision that allows for an automatic change in visitation or custody without the Court first having considered the child’s best interests, will be ruled invalid by the Court.
If there are any provisions in your settlement agreement that allows for the automatic change in visitation or custody, the court found that this provision constitutes an invalid self-executing change of visitation and is not allowed and will not be enforced by the Court. Additionally, if the provision is in your settlement agreement or parenting plan – your divorce decree and/or parenting plan is likely to be ruled invalid.
For more information about this Georgia Supreme Court case see Johnson v. Johnson, S11F1856 (1/09/12).
If you have questions about an uncontested divorce or adding a Third Party Determination of Child Custody provision to your settlement agreement or parenting plan – Contact the Remboldt Law Firm at 404-348-4081 for a FREE phone consultation.
If you are considering an uncontested divorce, you may find the UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WORKSHEET helpful in moving forward with an uncontested divorce.
Modification of Parenting Plan by a Third Party – Can a parenting plan be written where a third party can make a decision to terminate visitation or even the supervision of visitation – (Modification of Parenting Plan by a Third Party)? The answer is NO!
The Supreme Court of Georgia addressed this situation by partially reversing the parties final judgment in the parties’ divorce case, holding that the trial court improperly denied the father’s motion for new trial based on the incorporation of a parenting plan providing that the child’s therapist had the authority to determine the termination of supervision of the father’s overnight visitation with the child. Because the provision was a material change in visitation that allowed for an automatic change of the father’s visitation without judicial scrutiny into the child’s best interests, it constituted an invalid self-executing change of visitation that the trial court should not have included in the judgment and divorce decree.
Modification of Parenting Plan by a Third Party – Remember – only the court can change a parenting plan order and make a determination as to the child’s best interests as it relates to custody and visitation. In an uncontested divorce you should avoid having a third party determine if the parenting plan should change custody and/or visitation from what was already ordered by the Court.
For more information about this ruling see: Johnson v. Johnson S11F1856 (civil case) January 9, 2012 BENHAM, Justice. 12 FCDR 80 (01/13/12).
Modification of Parenting Plan by a Third Party. If you have questions about an uncontested divorce and/or creating a parenting plan that is in compliance with Georgia law – Contact the Remboldt Law Firm at 404-348-4081 for a FREE phone consultation.
If you are considering an uncontested divorce, you may find the UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WORKSHEET helpful in moving forward with an uncontested divorce and creating a Parenting Plan that is compliance with Georgia law. Also information about the Georgia Child Support Calculation can be found here.
Child Custody Litigation – Many of my clients come to my office seeking advice about child custody litigation. The first thing I discuss with my clients is how serious the journey will be – in that it will likely impact their children’s health, happiness, and relationship with both parents. Additionally, never will all the client’s conduct, words, attitudes and relationships be as closely scrutinized as during a custody litigation. Unlike other domestic relations litigation, in custody litigation, the conduct of the parents during the pendency of the litigation, many times determine the outcome of the case. Following is a list of conduct your attorney will discuss with you and likely suggest that you SHOULD NOT engage if you are considering child custody litigation.
- Use of drugs
- Frequent consumption of alcohol.
- Improper romantic or sexual relationships.
- Mistreatment of a child.
- Interference with a child’s relationship with the other parent.
- Failure to exercise all possible visitation or contact with the minor children.
- Failure to pay child support or other support as required.
- Lie or make misrepresentation under oath.
Additionally, you should assume that the other parent will be / or has been documenting your conduct. It is best, leading up to the litigation, that you should make sure your conduct does not include those conducting on the above list if you are considering child custody litigation.
If you have questions about child custody litigation or are considering your options as it relates to a change of custody of your children, you should seek out a knowledgeable child custody lawyer to help you decide next steps. A lawyer will discuss your objectives and concerns to see if child custody litigation makes sense for you.
For information about a child custody litigation in Georgia, contact the Remboldt Law Firm for a free consultation at 404-348-4081.
A court may not modify a previous decree in a contempt order. However, a court may always interpret and clarify its own orders. Here’s and example, the parties divorced in 2005. Pursuant to the divorce decree, the parties were granted joint legal and physical custody of the two minor children. The decree further ordered that the father shall have final authority to make decisions regarding extracurricular activities.
The Father filed a motion for contempt alleging that the Mother was in contempt for refusing to allow the daughter to participate in certain golf tournaments during her custodial time, and for continuing to use a golf instructor for the child that he previously fired. The trial court held that the golf instructor was forbidden from having any contact related to golf instruction with the daughter, and that the mother could utilize her custodial time with the children in any way she deems appropriate.
“The court may not modify a previous decree in a contempt order. However, a court may always interpret and clarify its own orders. The test to determine whether an order is clarified or modified is whether the clarification is reasonable or whether it is so contrary to the apparent intention of the original order as to amount to a modification. Cason v. Cason, 281 Ga. 296,297 (1)(2006)
The Georgia Supreme court held that the trial court did not impermissibly modify the earlier decree but instead clarified the extent as to which the father’s decision making as to children’s extracurricular activities could encroach upon the mother’s custodial time.
A court may not modify a previous decree in a contempt order but may interpret and clarify its own orders. Earle v. Earle, 312 Ga. App. 139 (October 18, 2011)