Can My Visitation Be Withheld?

The short answer is, no, notwithstanding serious circumstances.  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear of stories of the custodial parent withholding parenting time (visitation) for child support payments, personal vendettas and other reasons.  Regardless of the parents relationship with each other, it is important for children to build a bond with their parents.

If you are unable to spend time with your child because the other parent is preventing any parenting time then filing an action with the court may be your best option.  The type of action to file, depends on your circumstances.

There Is Already a Court-Ordered Parenting Plan

If you already have court-ordered parenting time with your child and your parenting time is being denied by the custodial parent then you can file a contempt action against and request for relief against the other parent to right the contemptuous actions.  For example, you can ask for make-up time with the child for the times you were denied. 

Another option is to request that the court modify the existing parenting plan permanently to grant you more parenting time with your child going forward.  A petition to modify parenting time can be filed once every two years in Georgia. 

There Is Not Already a Court-Ordered Parenting Plan

If you are legally married  to your child’s other parent then you can file for a divorce.  Once a divorce action is pending, the courts will have jurisdiction to hear your request for court-ordered parenting time.  In some severe circumstances, the court will entertain an emergency motion to allow you to see your child or even obtain physical custody of your child immediately.

If you are not legally married to your child’s mother then you need to first establish your rights to your child.  In Georgia, as the father, you have no legal rights or rights to parenting time until you have legitimized your child.  By filing a petition for legitimation, the courts then have jurisdiction to grant you legal rights to your child and grant you court-ordered parenting time with your child.

Custody and parenting time actions can be complicated and complex especially when both parents feel as though they are fighting to protect their child.  An experienced family law attorney can help you to navigate the legal process.

For your custody or parenting time consultation, contact Attorney Yolvondra Martin.

The Martin Law Group | 404-248-4898 | ymartin@themartinlawgroup.com

Establishing Visitation Rights for Unmarried Fathers

It is a common misconception in Georgia that when a father signs the birth certificate, that father has legal rights to his child.  The fact is that when a father has a child born out of wedlock in Georgia, the father is legally obligated to pay child support for the upbringing of the child but has no rights to visitation or even access to the child’s medical or educational information.

For a father to establish their legal rights to the child including visitation, the father must legitimize and file a custody action in Court or marry the mother.

A father can legitimize his child one of three ways.

First, the mother and father can sign the Acknowledgement of Legitimation section of the State of Georgia Form 3940 before the child’s first birthday.  This voluntary Acknowledgement establishes that the child is legitimately the child of the father.  While the form legitimizes the child, the form does not establish any custody or visitation rights for the father and the father must still file an action with the court if the need for a formal order arises.

The second method by which a father can legitimize his child is by filing an action with the court requesting that the child be legitimized and that his custody and visitation rights be established.  Generally, this action is filed in the Superior Court of the county in which the child resides.  Through this court filed legitimation action, the court can grant the father’s request for legitimation, grant the father his legal custody rights and set out an enforceable visitation schedule for the father and child.

The third is method is for the father to marry the mother.  Of course, this is not an option for every father or even in the best interest of the child in some cases.

The legitimation process can be complex, especially if the mother is not willing to agree to the terms that the father  is seeking.  If you are in need of establishing your legitimation rights, contact Attorney Yolvondra Martin for your consultation.

The Martin Law Group | 404-248-4898 | ymartin@themartinlawgroup.com