How Not To Get Slammed In Divorce Custody Cases By Withholding Child Contact
Divorce cases involving child custody issues are about so much more than just filing the correct piece of paper on time and require a high degree of strategy when the issue of custody turns into a fight. The key is to not make child decisions based on hurt feelings from the breakup.
Avoid The Temptation To Act On Emotional Hurt When It Comes To The KidsEveryone has heard the stories of a hurting parent using the children as a weapon to hurt the other parent. The problem is that nobody who is guilty of doing this realizes that they are doing it. Instead, the thought is "She isn't responsible enough to see the kids without supervision", or, "He has some strange woman I don't know living there and I don't want my kids around her". Whatever the reason may be, divorcing parents need to be extremely careful not to refuse contact with children to the other parent unless there is a very serious reason to do so and much of the time a judge will not agree with a parent's reasons for doing so. The danger here is that refusing to allow contact with children to the other parent can actually result in you getting less time-sharing with the children in the end.
From the Date You File A Case, Or Are Served, You May Be Under An Order To Allow Visitation To The Other ParentIn my jurisdiction of Orlando, FL, as is the case in many parts of the country, there is an administrative order for divorce cases involving minor children which is binding on the filing party at the time of filing and becomes binding on the other party as soon as they are personally served with the petition for divorce. The order essentially says that if there are children involved in the case the parent who consider themselves to be the majority parent must permit the other parent to have contact with the children while the case is in progress. The administrative order goes on to state that is you unreasonably refuse contact with kids to the other parent that your time-sharing should be called into question. This means that if you are refusing contact to the other parent and the judge believes your reasons were petty or not serious according to the court's standards you may end up getting a permanent reduction in your court ordered visitation time in the end. It is absolutely essential that if you are refusing the other side contact with the kids in any way, shape, or form that you consult an experienced divorce attorney to make sure that your reasons for doing so will pass the court's smell test.
You Need To Understand What "Best Interests Of The Child Means" And Let That Guide Every Decision Related To The ChildrenEvery judge's decision in a child custody case in most jurisdictions will be based on what is in the best interests of the children involved in the case. Each states statutes has set factors that courts are to use to consider the child's best interests. Here in Florida, some of the most popular factors include: a parent's ability to provide an environment for the child that is free from substance abuse and domestic violence, a parent's willingness to comply with the court's orders, a parent's ability to recognize the needs of the children and to put these needs above their own, and a parent's willingness to facilitate the relationship between the child and the other parent. These are the factors that judges use in determining custody schedules and if the judge thinks that you have unreasonably restricted access with the child to the other parent then you may fail when it comes to the last factor I stated above regarding a parents willingness to facilitate the relationship between the child and other parent. If that happens it can substantially impact how much time you get with the children and in some serious cases can have the children placed with the other parent.
What If My Spouse Is Not Letting Me See My Kids?Up to this point I have been harping on why you should avoid restricting access to the child from the other parent unless it is very serious. But what can you do if you are the one who is not permitted to see your child? The first step is to find an attorney who can think strategically in these types of cases. The first option in my jurisdiction, having the administrative order referenced above, is to file motions for contempt or enforcement of the administrative order requiring visitation to occur. Many times child custody attorneys will advise their clients not to allow any visitation until the other side has requested it in writing. For this reason make sure that your lawyer has made some type of written request on your behalf to set up voluntary time-sharing. These days many jurisdictions require a contested case to go to mediation conferences before they can set temporary custody hearings or trials. For this reason knowing when to rush the case to a mediation can be effective. Not every case should be rushed to mediation, however, in cases where the client is being denied any contact with the child whatsoever it may be an option to consider with your lawyer