Tonight's post on the perils of custody was written by one of our Atlanta
Sharing custody of your children is highly stressful and emotional.
Parents often disagree on how to raise their children, and anything can easily become a hot issue
- from children's extracurricular activities, to choice of schools,
summer camps to visitation schedules, medical treatment and even children's
clothes. I even argued a case in which the parents had to go to court
over ADHD medication.
It is no secret that modification of custody and contempt actions take
time and money
The prospect of paying legal fees for at least several months in order
to change the current situation, coupled with family law courts' backed
up schedules, can send anybody into disarray. Feeling powerless in such
situations sometimes pushes parents to make crazy decisions. "An
eye for an eye" is still a popular concept in custody battles.
For example, it is not uncommon for parents to decide to withhold visitations
in order to get child support, or block telephone or Skype access between
a child and the other parent in order to make the other parent more inclined
to cooperate. Or, a parent might take his or her children and flee.
That is why it is critical to know that in Georgia, interference with court-ordered
custody is taken very seriously, and, under O.C.G.A. Â§16-5-45,
such interference can result in
criminal charges punishable by a fine and/or even jail time. It is worth noting that
any person who, without lawful authority to do so, knowingly or recklessly
takes or entices any child away from the individual who has lawful custody
of such child, or knowingly harbors any child who has been abducted, or
intentionally or willfully retains possession of the child upon the expiration
of a lawful period of visitation with the child, commits the offence of
interference with custody. The first instance of interference is a misdemeanor
and is punishable by a fine of between $200.00 and $500.00, or jail time
of up to five months, or both. The second conviction is a misdemeanor
and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.00 or jail time of up to 12
months, or both. The third and any subsequent conviction is a felony punishable
by up to 5 years.
If a parent removes a child from the state and intentionally retains possession
of the child in another state after the expiration of lawful visitation
for the purpose of keeping a child away from the lawful custodian, such
interference is always a felony and punishable by jail time of up to 5 years.
So, avoid making hasty decisions. As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye
leaves the whole world blind." Besides, you want to see your children,
and there will be very limited opportunities to see your children if you
end up in jail.