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Can Interfering with Visitation Jeopardize Custody?

Can a parent in Georgia lose custody of their children if they interfere in the other parent’s visitation or parenting time, or unreasonably behave in allowing access to a child?

The short answer is yes. 

In Medley v. Mosely, 780 SE.2d 31, the Georgia Court of Appeals, citing approval from the Georgia Supreme Court, upheld a custody modification of children to the non-custodial father from the custodial mother because:

  1. the mother had interfered in visitation despite numerous consent orders and court mandates
  2. instead of allowing the father to visit with the children, the mother left the children with their maternal grandmother
  3. the father was capable of caring for the children, and it was in their best interest that he do so.

Issues regarding post-divorce parenting friction, or with regard to paternity, legitimation and ‘baby daddy’ scenarios are frequent topics in the cases Shaw Law handles. 

Sometimes the issues are legitimate. There may be an issue concerning the non-custodial parent that has a material impact on the well-being of the children. If this is so, involve an attorney with experience in child custody cases. Do not take it upon yourself to act out and restrict contact, or start making life difficult for the other parent who is trying to visit. 

If the issue is legitimate, then action must be taken with the court to protect the children. Taking action unilaterally, in an unreasonable manner, can lead to a modification of custody. If an issue is legitimately worth interfering in the other parent’s visitation or parenting time, then it is something the court needs to address.  

On the other side of the issue as the parent who feels restricted, sometimes it is the little things that add up, such as:

  • not listing the other parent’s name as a parent and a registered contact on the children’s forms
  • restricting their access to picking up the children at school
  • making pickup and drop off unreasonably difficult
  • not sharing car seats in an emergency
  • not being occasionally flexible when it is reasonable to be so
  • demanding requirements from the other parent that are not mandated within the parenting plan

Cases have been won based on such things to modify custody, or hold the other parent in contempt.  Shaw Law has also defended parents in such situations. These cases can be frustrating for both sides.  What it usually comes down to is whether there is a real and legitimate reason for this behavior, and how straight-forward the evidence is.   

What you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  Parents can say damning things that hurt their position, often in a self-righteous manner, believing themselves to be in the right, when to others, it is questionable.

If visitation issues like this exist, before you either make matters worse for yourself, or let matters slide and allow the other parent to continue to make your life miserable and impact the well-being of your children in the process, it pays to have a consultation with an attorney who can advise you of your rights and remedies. These circumstances can be very frustrating from the perspective of the parent on either side of the case, yet these sorts of cases can also often lead to life-changing legal decisions that will materially impact not only your life, but the childrens’ as well, so legal consultation would be important.

Scott Shaw is founder and principal of Shaw Law Firm PC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm has offices in Dunwoody/Sandy Springs and serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today or call us at 770-594-8309.