Georgia Child Custody Contempt Lawyers
Coleman Legal Group, LLC
Child visitation contempt is a civil charge due to a substantial interference in custody or visitation to rights that are specifically granted under court order.
If either parent feels that the opposing parent is substantially violating the court order concerning visitation they may file paperwork against the parent violating the court order and ask the court to enforce said order. Following the filing of paperwork the court will hold a trial based on the contempt in which the parties will be able to present evidence in support or denial of the contempt action and if the contempt is granted the parent responsible can receive punitive fees, misdemeanors, jail time, and even felonies.
The following are a list of examples that may constitute as contempt in relation to visitation:
• Blocking visitation.
• Blocking communication.
• Allowing Children to refuse to visit – without reason such as documented abuse or neglect.
• Denying visitation due to a nonpayment of child support.
• Parent consistently interfering in visitation – example: demanding to be present for visitation.
• Consistently scheduling extracurricular activities that interfere with the child’s typical visitation schedule.
What are the Specific Consequences of a Contempt of Visitation Charge?
The contempt of court charge is a unique in that it is a civil charge that may if found guilty result in criminal charges. The results of a particular case are depended on the case in question and the resulting rulings may be different dependent upon judge or jurisdiction. Generally speaking the criminal consequence of contempt of visitation charge may be subjected to any of the following at the judge’s discretion: fines, community service, misdemeanor charges, jail time, payment of legal fees to opposing party, and payment of fees for any type of counseling. If the parent is a repeat offender and has chronically disregarded the order or has acted out with particular malice a judge may even order a felony charge for contempt of visitation. In the state of Georgia a felonious charge is not typically issued until a contempt following a third charge of contempt of visitation and the party has been found “willfully guilty” of violating court order.
Who is in contempt?
• Anyone interfering with court-ordered custody that amount to a criminal act under Georgia law.
• A non-custodial parent who keeps a child under seventeen years of age (17) away from a custodial parent, including failing to return the child after expiration of court-ordered visitation time.
• Even a single instance of visitation interference is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, jail time or both.
• A third conviction of visitation interference is a felony.
• “If a parent removes the child from the state, or keeps the child out of state after expiration of a legal out-of-state visitation period, the offense is interstate interference with custody, which is always a felony.”
Additional Consequences Remedying the Violation of Court Ordered Visitation
The court may not necessarily find either party “willfully guilty” of the court order, but may rule that the original court order concerning visitation needs to be modified as a result of the contempt charge—for clarification purposes. Or in situations involving a legitimate contempt the court may determine that a particular court ordered remedy is necessary for correcting grievances generated by the violation of court ordered visitation. In these types of situations a judge may restrict or expand the existing parameters concerning visitation and some examples of such circumstance are as follows:
• Court ordered “make up” visitation- during the week or during the guilty parent’s normal visitation time.
• Court order mandating that the interfering parent attend parenting classes/ co-parenting therapy
• Court ordering mandated reunification – play therapy
• Restricting visitation to a particular county
• Court ordering supervised visitation
• Restricting overnight visitation
• Court ordered stipulations of things that may occur in the child’s presence- use of alcohol, tobacco drugs, or indecent associate’s exposure during the visitation period.
• Holding the interfering parent with a contempt of court charge.
What are the Grounds for Deviating from Court Ordered Visitation Time?
If you have reasonable evidence to suggest that your child may be in immediate danger from the other parent this may warrant for the child to be withheld for visitation time or withheld from return from visitation. However, it is important for parents in such a circumstance to note not to take matters into their own hands and to report the problem prior to the violation of court order to the proper authorities. In an emergency situation it is appropriate to call and inform the local police to report abuse, life threatening emergencies, or neglect resulting in serious injury. In situations in which an investigation may need to take place to uncover abuse or neglect you should hire an attorney and contact your local Department of Child Protective Services or the department in the county in which the instances of abuse/ neglect are taking place.
If you believe that the abuse warrants for the child and yourself to go into hiding it is necessary to notify:
- child protective services
- the court with current jurisdiction
- the District Attorney’s office, to avoid a possible contempt of court charge.
In instances that you feel you cannot afford an attorney the county court system may provide you with relief; such as, a local family violence shelter, an attorney that may charge fees based on limited income, or an agency in which a legal assistant may assist you in filing a motion for emergency relief. If the above actions are applied correctly and evidence does not substantiate claims of abuse warranting a withholding of visitation than a contempt of court charge may be granted against the interfering parent. If found in contempt the court may also in a future hearing modify the terms of custody based on the occurrence of a serious contempt action.
Can the Court Change Custody at a Contempt Hearing?
In the State of Georgia a court cannot order for a change of custody to occur during the contempt of court hearing. A contempt of court hearing is specifically to only address the issues concerning the contempt of court. In a contempt of court hearing a judge may as a result of finding a party guilty of contempt, issue a modification of the current custody order, and or make further court ordered dictum to remedy the past grievances of visitation interference. It is important to note that any time that a parent interferes with the court ordered right of visitation this interference is grounds for a warranted change of custody. The non-interfering parent will need to in such circumstances to file for an additional hearing, via a separate motion for a modification of child custody, to obtain a legal change of custody.
Our main office is located in Alpharetta Georgia at: 11539 Park Woods Circle, Suite 304, Alpharetta, GA 30005. We also have offices conveniently located at:
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Alpharetta, GA 30005
Phone: 770-609-1247 | Map
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Georgia Areas We Serve
Coleman Legal Group, LLC’s divorce and family law attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Sharon Springs, Marietta, Suwanee, Sandy Springs, Canton, Woodstock, Holly Springs, Douglasville, Kennesaw, Gainesville, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Midtown, Inman Park, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, Smyrna, Covington, Conyers, Newborn, Mansfield, Oxford, Social Circle, Porterdale, Buford, Sugar Hill, Mountain Park, Dacula, Ball Ground and Starrsville.
Our Georgia divorce and family law attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette, Newton, Walton, Rockdale and Clayton.
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