We love our kids. They’re a huge part of our lives, which is why child custody disputes so often become heated and tense.
Because our focus is family law, we field inquiries about custody and visitation all the time. The courts generally view keeping both parents in a child’s life as the best option after divorce. But stories about where one parent keeps a child from the other commonly pop up in the media and beyond.
So the question arises, can your ex keep you from seeing your child after a split?
Related Reading: I Pay Child Support but She Denies Me Visitation, is that Legal?
As is so often the case in these cases, it’s not always a simple answer. Our managing attorney Zephyr Hill recently fielded this question regarding whether a wife can stop her husband from seeing his kids. The question reads:
“My sister left her husband and she does not want him to see the kids because he is involved with the law right now and he is unstable. Can she refuse him the right to see the girls even though they are married?”
Related Reading: How Felony Convictions Impact Child Custody Cases
For the most part, if you are living together, you can’t limit your spouse’s access to your kids as long as you are married. In this case, since it sounds like she moved out and took the kids, she does have some options.
First off, she can simply refuse to grant him access to the children. However, this option is only a temporary fix. Once she refuses him access, the husband can go file an action with the court to establish rights of visitation.
In that action, both sides will be able to present their case. The wife will have the chance to present her reasons for her actions. If there is a history of abuse or unstable actions on the part of the husband, she will show this evidence. On the other side, the husband will also be able to state his case and make his claim. Once both sides have gone, the court will make a determination of what is in the best interest of the child and issue a ruling.
If the wife wants to be the one that initiates this process, this is also an option. She can file a custody action with the court and seek sole custody of their child. It is important to note that to be successful she will likely need to be looking into getting a legal separation or divorce at the same time.
Again, in this situation, both sides must plead their case. But if the mother has a compelling argument, the court may rule in her favor. If she does not, however, the court may also rule in favor of the father.
One final option is to seek a temporary restraining order followed by a protection order. These orders cut off all contact between the husband and his children for a short period of time. In order for this to happen, the court usually requires that there be some imminent danger should they not act. Such an outcome may not be likely in this situation because it doesn’t sound like there is any evidence of abuse.
From the perspective of the husband, the wife has quite a few arrows in her quiver to cut off access to his kids. Losing a battle for child custody has serious consequences that can range from being removed from your home to permanently losing access to your children.
These legal actions will result in a court order. Once in place, however, the courts rule, both parties must abide by the decision. If not, they face potential repercussions, like contempt charges or even jail time. Essentially, these decrees give you legal backup.
Related Reading: Divorce Vs Annulment