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.
Custody vested in Father. The Court of Appeals affirmed the modification of a previous custody award and grant of primary physical custody of the child to the biological father, holding that evidence supported the trial court’s findings that a material change of condition affecting the welfare of the child occurred and the change in custody was in the child’s best interest. The Court held that what began as a temporary custodial arrangement when the mother moved to Oklahoma in 2004, leaving the child in the care and custody of his maternal grandmother in Missouri, and arguably could still be construed as such when the parents entered into a 2006 consent order modifying the father’s visitation rights, evolved into a permanent custodial arrangement by the time the father filed his petition for change of custody in 2009, and the mother’s voluntary surrender of physical custody and control of the child to his grandmother resulted in a material change in condition. Additional evidence supporting the finding of a material change in condition included the grandmother’s limitation of some of the father’s visitation, the exclusion of the father from important medical decisions affecting the child, and the failure to notify the father when the mother executed powers of attorney in loco parentis in favor of the grandmother. The Court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the award of primary physical custody to the father was in the best interest of the child, as a prima facie right of custody is vested in the non-custodial parent when the custodial parent voluntarily surrenders custody to a third party; a rebuttable presumption provides that it is in the best interest of the child to award custody to a parent rather than a third party; and the father presented evidence that he is a fit and qualified parent to have primary physical custody and will be able to meet the needs of the child in adjusting to a new home.
If you have questions about how child custody or when Custody vested in Father – for more information, contact the Remboldt Law Firm at 404-348-4081 for a free consultation.
Parental Rights Termination and Drugs. Here’s an example of a case where the parental rights were terminated by the Court due to drug use.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of the mother’s parental rights to her 10-month-old daughter, holding that the trial court did not err in finding that the child was deprived, the mother was the cause of the deprivation and the deprivation was likely to continue, where the mother had a 12-year history of drug addiction and repeatedly used methamphetamine while pregnant; neither of the mother’s two other children were in her custody; the mother had multiple felony drug convictions and was in jail after the child’s birth; the mother failed to financially support the child until four weeks before the termination hearing; the mother had five separate residences since the child’s birth; the mother made no attempt whatsoever to visit the child until she filed her motion for visitation when the child was nine months old; and the mother was willing to reconcile with the father, who was also addicted to methamphetamine and had not completed any type of drug treatment. The Court also held that termination was in the child’s best interest, based on the evidence of the mother’s prior drug problems, her failure to support or develop any bond with the child, her willingness to reconcile with the father, and the paternal relatives’ desire to adopt the child.
Parental Rights Termination and Drugs. For more information see the Georgia case: In the Interest of Z.P., A11A2183 (02/24/12)
If you have questions about Parental Rights Termination and Drugs, a divorce settlement agreement, contempt, or if you are considering filing a divorce, please contact the contact the Remboldt Law Firm, LLC at 404-348-4081 for a free phone consultation.
The Supreme Court partially reversed the 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.
Johnson v. Johnson, S11F1856 (1/09/12)
Fulton County Daily Report, January 13, 2012
Order modifying terms of appellant’s visitation rights, affirmed, as custody evaluation was proper in this case though the case originally involved visitation; parties were divorced and consented to joint legal and physical custody of children; appellee filed petition seeking to modify terms of appellant’s visitation; custody evaluator was assigned to case, and her findings were not to be distributed except with court’s permission; appellant called expert witness who admitted to having copy of custody evaluator’s report; trial court granted appellee’s petition to modify appellant’s visitation; trial court did not err in declining to declare a mistrial after guardian ad litem advised court in chambers about statements made by one child, while appellant was not there, since his attorney was present and made no objection at the time, attorney waited until guardian placed evidence on record in matter before objecting, guardian did not introduce unreported evidence in chambers, and appellant failed to support argument that guardian’s statements so prejudiced court that it could not have ruled properly; prohibiting appellant’s expert from testifying about the report did not violate appellant’s due process rights; expert’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was not violated; appellant had no standing to bring Fourth Amendment claim on behalf of expert, and expert consented to the court’s request to view file which contained unauthorized report; appellant properly held in contempt of court for allowing his expert to review the custody evaluator’s report; no error in denying appellant’s motion in limine to exclude from record portions of evaluator’s report that contained the children’s statements; to degree any statements could be considered hearsay, the courts have presumed to have disregarded it.
Trial court’s orders entered in post-divorce litigation, AFFIRMED; trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding mother in contempt for taking parties’ 11 year old son to counseling because trial court’s previous order gave father final decision-making authority for child’s health and medical issues, and father disapproved of therapist to whom mother took child; trial court DID NOT ERROR when, after finding that mother withheld visitation from father, it dismssed contempt, visitation, and custotdy portions of mother’s petition and did not permit mother to present evidence on merits of dismssed claims, pursuant to O.C.G.A. 19-9-24 (b); because Mother filed current petition for modification of child support 11 moths after trial court dismissed her earlier petition for modification of child support, trial court DID NOT ERROR in dismissing portion of mother’s petition seeking modification of child support, pursuant to O.C.G.A. 19-6-15 (K)(2); trial court DID NOT ERROR as matter of law when it refused to allow guardian ad litem to interview chid’s thereapist without father’s consent because mother previously consented to entry of modified consent order appointing guardian ad litem and providing that guardian was not authorized to speak with child’s thereapist without permission of both parents; trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered mother to pay remainder of fees owned guardian ad litem because mother was not prevailing party, and no statue required that trial court consider parties’ relative financial circumstances when apportioning share of guardian’s fees pursuant to consent order; trial court DID NOT ABUSE its discreton in declining to apply rule of sequestration to unidentifed woman in courtroom because woman did not testify; trial court did not lack jurisdiciton to deny mother’s motiuon to set asside ward of attorney’ fees, despite fact that mother previously filed notice of appeal from underlying judgment, because underlying judgment was final, and trial court’s award of attorneys’ fees did not supplement, amend, lter, or modify that judgment; mother’s application for discretionary review of denial of her motion to set aside award of attorney’s fees, proper, because where both OCGA 5-6-34 (a) are involved, application for appeal is requiered when uderlying subject matter of appeal is listed in 5-6-35(a).
Judgment in parties’ divorce case, PARTIALLY REVERSED, and case REMANDED; final degree internally contradicted each party’s share of their minor child’s uninsured health case expenses, since test of decree required 61-39 percent split and incorporated child support addendum required 50-50 split; trial court erred in ordering husband to maintain minor child’s health insurance, without including that expense in calculating his child support obligation, since husband testified that his monthly heath premium would be $238, OCGA 19-6-15 (b)(6) requires proration of child care and health insurance expenses between parents in arriving at adjusted child support obligation and, under section (b)(7), trial court must modify adjusted child support obligation by factoring amount of health and child care expenses each parent actually pays; trial court did not abuse its discretion in requireingwife to pay half of loan balance as of date of divorce decree, rather than date of trial, even though trial court did not enter decree until 155 days after trial, since trial court has broad discretion in dividing marital property, and OCGA 15-6-21(a), which requires rulings on motion within 30 days after hearing in counties with less than 100K inhabitants applies only to motions for new trials, injunctions, demurrers, and all other motion, not to bench trials in divorce actions; trial court had discretion to order sale of parties’ residence and to account for how existing mortgage would be paid until sale; trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering husband to continue paying mortgage on marital residence, where he still resided, until he purchases home or it is sold; husband benefited from trial court’s omission of steps requiring pro ration of child care expenses under 19-6-15(b) because trial court order parents to split child care expenses equally and father’s pro rate share of expenses would have been 57&; trial court did not abuse its discretion in its visiation award.
Dupree v. Dupree, S10F0516 (06/07/2010), 10 FCDR 1824
Order granting maternal grandmother visitation rights with her daughter’s two children, pursuant to Georgia’s Grandparent Visitation Statute, AFFIRMED; daughter could not challenge visitation order, since she aided in causing order by moving trial court to enforce earlier visitation agreement and there was no evidence of fraud or mistake; daughter was authorized to file instant appeal, pursuant to OCGA 5-6-34(a)(11); Court declined to dismiss daughter’s appeal and denied grandmother’s motion to sanction daughter for filing frivolous appeal.
Hargett v. Dickey, A10A0762 (05/20/2010), 10 FCDR 1702
Order holding wife in contempt of parties’ divorce decree and declaring that wife would now pay 100 percent of costs associated with her supervised child visitation, AFFIRMED; trial court has express authority to modify visitation rights in contempt proceedings and cost in this case were directly associated with wife’s visitation privileges.
Carlson v. Carlson, S08A0704 (07/07/08), 08 FCDR 2286
Dismissal of father’s new/amended contempt application concerning mother’s alleged violation of his visitation rights, REVERSED; father had right under O.C.G.A. § 5-6-34 as amended to directly appeal dismissal of his contempt motion, father’s new contempt motion gave mother adequate notice of nature of his claim and trial court’s sua sponte dismissal without hearing did not afford father due process; mother’s contention that trial court lacked personal jurisdiction was meritless, even though mother had moved out of state, since father’s properly served prior contempt motion was still pending when he served mother with new/amended motion and father’s service of new/amended motion on mother’s attorney of record in prior pending action was sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction.