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Child Support and Visitation

In Georgia, the duty to pay child support has nothing to do with visitation. Thus, visitation cannot be withheld for failure to pay child support. Consider a situation where a final divorce decree awarded primary physical custody to the mother, with the father paying child support and receiving generous visitation with his children. If the father falls behind on his child support obligation, he is in contempt of the court order. The proper remedy for the mother is to file a Petition for Contempt against the father.

Often times, rather than filing a Petition for Contempt, the mother may seek to “retaliate” against the father for failing to pay child support by refusing him visitation with the children. This is not a recommended remedy, as it will result in the mother also being in contempt of the court order, and the father could file a Petition for Contempt against her for failing to abide by the visitation schedule.

Conversely, if your ex-spouse is refusing to honor the visitation terms of the final divorce decree, you cannot retaliate by refusing to pay child support. While it is certainly frustrating when your ex-spouse ignores or disobeys the terms of the court order, you will look much better to the court if you come in with your hands clean and are fulfilling your obligations under the order.

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