BARNES, P. J., MERCIER and BROWN, JJ.
Selvage ("the father") appeals the trial
court's order denying his petition to modify custody,
child support, and visitation. He contends that the trial
court erred in (1) denying him any visitation; (2) refusing
to adopt less extreme visitation provisions pursuant to OCGA
§ 19-9-7; (3) failing to enter a child support award
pursuant to OCGA § 19-6-15 and to incorporate a child
support worksheet or addendum into the final order; and (4)
failing to incorporate a permanent parenting plan into the
final order. For the reasons that follow, we vacate the order
and remand the case with direction.
record shows that the father was involved in a romantic
relationship with Latrina Franklin ("the mother")
when she became pregnant. The father did not want the child
and was not present for the birth in 2008. The father had no
contact with either the mother or the child until the mother
contacted him in 2009, needing a place to stay after a
disagreement with her mother. The mother, the child, and the
mother's older child from a different relationship stayed
with the father for a week until an incident occurred,
leading to the arrest of the father. The father pleaded
guilty to family violence battery and third degree cruelty to
children for committing acts of domestic violence against the
mother in the presence of both of her minor
children.As a condition of his probation, the father
was ordered to have no contact with the mother or her minor
2011, the father violated the no-contact condition of his
probation by leaving a letter in the mother's mailbox,
and as a result, the mother was granted a twelvemonth family
violence protective order on February 14, 2012. The
protective order prohibited the father from having any
contact with the mother and her two children. On September
21, 2012, the father was charged with violating the family
violence protective order, and his probation stemming from
the 2010 charges was revoked because the father had contacted
the mother. The father entered a plea of nolo contendere and
was sentenced to twelve months of probation. A condition of
his probation was no violent contact with the
mother. In 2013, the mother sought a permanent protective
order against the father, which was denied.
October 2009 until 2013, the father had no contact with the
child. In 2013, the father filed a petition to legitimate the
child, seeking to obtain joint legal custody of the child, to
establish visitation rights, and to have child support
established. In its final order, entered nunc pro tunc May
29, 2013, the trial court granted the legitimation, declaring
the father to be the legal father of the child, but found
that it was not in the best interest of the child to have any
visitation or contact with the child "[d]ue to the [the
father]'s criminal history and family
violence." The court awarded sole physical and legal
custody to the mother and ordered that no child support be
paid due to the court's finding that the father lacked
the means to pay. Finally, the trial court included a
no-contact provision in the order:
[The father] is ordered not to go to the minor child's
school and to have no direct or indirect contact with the
The Court also Orders that [the father] is to have no direct
or indirect contact with the minor child's mother . . .
nor is [the father] to have any direct or indirect contact
with [the mother]'s other minor child. . .
2015, after the child began exhibiting behavioral problems at
school, the mother reached out to the father. The mother
began allowing contact between the father and the child,
leading to the mother supervising visits between the father
and the child. Both the mother and the father testified that
the father picked the child up from summer daycare more than
once and that the father had unsupervised visits with the
child without incident. Sometime in the fall of 2015, the
mother cut off all contact after an unspecified disagreement
between the parents.
2016, the father filed a petition for modification of
custody, child support, and visitation. The petition was
dismissed for want of prosecution on March 16, 2016, after
the father failed to appear at a scheduled hearing on his
March 14, 2017, the father filed another petition for
modification of custody, child support, and visitation,
seeking to obtain joint physical and legal custody of the
child, to establish visitation rights, and to have child
support established. The mother opposed the petition,
including the request to establish child support. After a
hearing, the trial court denied the father's petition in
its entirety, finding that "it still is not in this
child's best interests to have contact with the
[father]." The father now appeals the trial court's
father first contends that the trial court erred in denying
him any visitation rights with his child.
In deciding visitation, the trial court has very broad
discretion, looking always to the best interest of the child.
When the trial court has exercised that discretion, this
[C]ourt will not interfere unless the evidence shows a clear
abuse of discretion, and where there is any evidence to
support the trial court's finding, this [C]ourt will not
find there was an abuse of discretion.
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Williams v.
Williams, 301 Ga. 218, 220 (1) (800 S.E.2d 282) (2017).
We must also bear in mind that
[i]t is the express policy of this state to encourage that a
child has continuing contact with parents and grandparents
who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the
child and to encourage parents to share in the rights and
responsibilities of raising their child after such parents
have separated or dissolved their marriage or relationship.
§ 19-9-3 (d). To that end, "only in exceptional
circumstances should the noncustodial parent be denied the
right of access to his child." (Citation omitted.)
Woodruff v. Woodruff, 27 ...