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Overnight guests a bad idea for divorcing parents

Divorce proceedings can be very difficult and very stressful, but this may be especially true if children are involved. If a dispute over child custody arises, then the court will consider the fitness of each parent when deciding on an appropriate arrangement that protects the child's best interest.

Parents going through divorce are usually treading in uncertain territory, and this can lead to confusion and even a desire to seek out a new romantic relationship before the divorce is finalized. However, parents should remember that a child's knowledge of such a relationship could be a factor in a court's decision regarding child custody.

In other words, if a parent is seeing another partner outside of the marriage, then overnight visits should be ruled out. Another relationship in the midst of divorce isn't illegal, but parents should keep in mind the possible psychological ramifications if a child finds out. Children already endure negative consequences because of divorce, so parents should try to minimize the negative effects.

In Georgia, a parent's having physical custody has traditionally meant that the child lives with that parent, while legal custody refers to a parent's right to make parenting decisions with regard to things such as education and health care. If a court is made aware of an unhealthy home life involving a parent's overnight guests, then this could have a significant impact on that parent's time with a child.

Georgia courts are gradually shifting toward custody arrangements that call for an equal split of parenting time, so divorcing parents should take care not to make decisions that could detrimentally compromise that balance.

Source: Huffington Post, "How Overnight Dates Could Seriously Damage Your Custody Case," Lenore Skonal, March 17, 2014

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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