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New law protects visitation rights of extended family members

During a Georgia divorce, the changes and adjustments that must be made are often difficult for children to process. Regardless of the age of the child, Psychology Today points out that the parenting plan and visitation rights may facilitate recovery by preserving routine and consistency through the schedule in the child custody order.

The Henry Herold reports that lawmakers have expressed concern over the effects on children when the close bonds with extended family members are overlooked during child custody proceedings. The result has been the introduction of a new law that allows judges in family courts to include visitation rights that would preserve these relationships when it is in the best interests of the child to do so.

The considerations for visitation rights are limited to family members who already have a firmly established relationship with the child. The court may take into account any situation where the child may suffer harm from the loss of contact with the relative. However, there are also specific guidelines to identify situations that may have created the bond, such as living with the child for at least six months, providing regular child care or meeting the child’s basic needs for a year or more.

Although extended family in these cases includes aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents, original actions for visitation rights may only be filed by grandparents. If a parent or guardian of a child believes the visitation rights should be modified or revoked, he or she may file a petition with the court to that effect. 

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