Progress is Impossible Without Change: Modifying Parents’ Visitation Rights

The “Permanent Parenting Plan” that becomes court-ordered as a result of divorce or child custody proceedings will include a plan for the non-custodial parent (i.e., the parent that the child does not live with) to exercise parenting time (also called “visitation”).

Oftentimes, the parents will have agreed to this plan during the course of the divorce or custody case.  At that time, it may have made perfect sense for the non-custodial parent to be allowed certain parenting time (example: every Saturday), and, in the best interest of the child, the parents agreed that the non-custodial parent would visit with child at the agreed upon time.
But what if the visitation plan no longer makes sense for the child?
 
Under Georgia law, the order that included instructions on when/where/how the non-custodial parent may exercise parenting time may be modified by either parent by filing a Petition for Modification of Visitation.
At any time after the order, either parent may request the court to modify the court order if there has been a “change of circumstances affecting the welfare of  the child.”
Additionally, either parent may request the court to review and modify the parenting plan every two years without showing a change of circumstances.
In addition to changes in the allotted time for exercising parenting time, changes may be made to add or remove other visitation requirements, such as:
  • the exchange of a child to occur in a protected setting;
  • visitation or parenting time supervised by another person or agency;
  • prohibition of overnight visitation or parenting time;
  • other conditions that is deemed necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of family violence, or another family or household member.
Some visitation plans may be disrupting a child’s life and causing unnecessary stress on both the child and the parents.  The child’s best interest will always be at the heart of court proceedings involving custody issues, and when modification of an old parenting plan is in the child’s best interest, the court may grant relief in the form of changes to the plan.