McFarlane v. McFarlaneAnnotate this Case
Husband and wife were divorced in 2006. Pursuant to the divorce decree, the parties were given joint custody of their two minor children; wife was awarded primary physical custody. The decree gave husband “liberal visitation with the children as arranged from time to time” with wife. If the parties could not agree on visitation, the decree set forth a detailed visitation schedule for the parties to follow. Finally, the decree ordered husband to pay child support in the amount of $1,150 per month. Husband brought this action in 2011 seeking a modification of both custody and support. Wife answered and counterclaimed, alleging husband was in contempt of his financial obligations under the decree. the trial court denied husband’s request to change custody, but reduced husband’s child support obligation to $740 per month. The trial court also found husband in arrears of his obligations to pay child support, out-of-pocket medical expenses and health insurance premiums, and it ordered husband to pay these amounts to wife. Husband appeals. The Supreme Court found that no parenting plan was ever entered by the trial court. Although the divorce decree set forth a visitation schedule in great detail, it could not be said it complied with the requirements of a permanent parenting plan. Because the trial court failed to enter a permanent parenting plan when it entered the modification order, the Court remanded this case for compliance with the requirements of OCGA 19-9-1. The Court found no other error and affirmed in all other respects.