I found out recently from my children that their father has stopped by the school and asked them to relay messages to me. Is he allowed to do so? Can he visit the children during non-residential time?
Why not? After all, I would assume you'd like for him to show up at school for concerts, conferences, the occasional field trip, so as to support your children in their endeavors, right? Or do you think he should show up and not talk to them? That would be curious.
He can visit them at school but he should not be using the children as a conduit of information to you -- that can be viewed as involving them in the litigation which the courts absolutely hate,. Write him a strongly worded letter, send it via certified mail to advise him if he does not discontinue using the children to pass messages, you will be filing a motion to deal with the issue through the courts.
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(1) Visits by dad during school: It depends on what the parenting plan says. If the parenting plan is silent on visits at school during your residential time, I have seen different results from different commissioners. Most of the time, this can be worked out in mediation. In contested motions, most of the time the noncustodial parent is told to not visit the kids during time that is reserved for the custodial parent. Otherwise, you would also start showing up to visit the kids during the dad's residential time. (2) Relaying messages: I've never seen this approved by a commissioner. Totally inappropriate. It’s always best to consult with a good family law attorney to discuss the details before you act. See my AVVO Legal Guides on parenting plans, mediation and motions for contempt for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although these Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. There are always exceptions to the general rules. Click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "Contributor Level - View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Contribution - Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 31 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”. © Bruce Clement
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Family Law Attorney
Most courts allow a parent to attend their children's school and this is not considered visitation. He cannot interfere with their education and should get permission from the school. He cannot take the children away from school at lunch. He should not be having the children act as messengers to you and should have the decency to contact you directly, just as you should not be using them to pass messages on to him. You should let him know that it is not proper to directly involve the children in these situations that are adult matters. If he continues after you have requested that he stop then you need to go to court and get an order, perhaps even ask for contempt against him for his conduct. Before you go to court talk to your lawyer.