Learning Your Rights as a Non-Custodial Parent
Whether you are going through the divorce process or your former spouse or partner has already been granted primary custody, it is important to understand your rights as a non-custodial parent. Georgia’s custody laws focus on protecting the best interests of the child, and in most cases this requires the parents to develop a “parenting plan” that allows the child to spend meaningful time with both his or her mother and father.
5 Key Rights of Non-Custodial Parents in Georgia
As a non-custodial parent in Georgia, your rights include:
1. The Right to Have a Say in Your Parenting Plan
First, and perhaps most importantly, you have the right to have a say in the terms of your parenting plan. Whether you are going through a divorce or developing a parenting plan with a former partner, you are entitled to protect your rights as much as possible. This includes securing visitation rights (which, in most cases, should be unsupervised), and may also include obtaining legal custody rights. Legal custody is distinct from physical custody, and involves having the right to participate in making important decisions affecting your children’s lives.
2. The Right to Protect Your Children’s Best Interests
When it comes to developing a parenting plan, the guiding principle in all cases is protecting the best interests of the children involved. Even if you are not designated as the non-custodial parent, you still have the right to ensure that your children’s best interests are secure.
3. The Right to a Fair Child Support Obligation
In most circumstances, non-custodial parents are also the parents who are obligated to pay child support. The Georgia child support laws include clear guidelines for calculating parents’ respective financial obligations, and you are entitled to a fair child support calculation based upon a complete and accurate disclosure of your spouse’s or former partner’s income.
4. The Right to Enforce Your Visitation Time
Visitation rights are established by court order, and custodial parents cannot interfere with non-custodial parents’ visitation rights absent judicial approval. Parenting plans will typically include clear provisions for things like transportation, pick-up and drop-off times, holidays and vacations, and both parents must strictly adhere to the terms their custody arrangements.
5. The Right to Seek Modification of Your Custody and Visitation Award
If circumstances change after your divorce or separation, you may be entitled to a modification of your parenting plan. If you are not happy with your visitation rights, if your former spouse or partner is being uncooperative, or if your children have expressed a desire to spend more time with you, it will be well worth discussing your options with an experienced attorney.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor
For more information about non-custodial parents’ rights in Georgia, contact the law offices of Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor. With five convenient office locations, we serve clients throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area. To schedule a consultation at your convenience, please call (678) 971-3413 or get in touch with us online today.