Posted On: June 24, 2011

Petition for Contempt, and Petitions for Modification of Custody, Child Support, and Visitation dismissed by Georgia trial court

In addition to addressing the final decision making issue in Avren v. Garten, the Supreme Court of Georgia also addressed the trial court’s dismissal of the mother’s petitions for contempt, and modification of custody, child support and visitation. Avren v. Garten, S11A0064 (2011). The mother contended that the trial court erred in dismissing these actions. Id. at 3.

The Supreme Court of Georgia disagreed with the mother, holding that the mother’s petitions for modification of custody, modification of visitation, and her petition for contempt were properly dismissed pursuant to OCGA §19-9-24(b), which “prohibits a legal guardian from bringing an action for modification of child custody or visitation rights or any application for contempt of court so long as visitation rights are withheld by the legal guardian in violation of the custody order.” Id. at 4. In this case, there was overwhelming evidence that the mother had left the house with the child on scheduled visitation days during the time in which the father was to pick up the child. Id. Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court of Georgia held that the trial court did not err when it dismissed these actions. Id. at 5.

The Supreme Court of Georgia also held that the mother’s petition for modification of child support was properly dismissed due to the “two-year rule.” This rule provides that “[n]o petition to modify child support may be filed by either parent within a period of two years from the date of the final order on a previous petition to modify by the same parent.” OCGA §19-6-15(k)(2). In this case, the mother filed the current petition only 11 months after her previous petition for modification of child support. Id. at 6. Since it had been less than two years, the mother's petition was properly dismissed. Id. at 7.