Disagreements about custody and visitation aren’t uncommon at the beginning of a divorce. It can be tough to figure out how to create a custody plan that provides access to both parents.
If you have serious concerns about your ex’s ability to safely parent the children, that can make things even more challenging. This is an issue that should be addressed early on in the divorce process. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your children if you believe that they may not be safe with your ex.
This is an issue that should be addressed early on in the divorce process. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your children if you believe that they may not be safe with your ex.
Keeping Your Spouse From the Kids Can Have Serious Consequences
You should never simply take your child or deny the other parent access to your children. This can only be done if you have a court order allowing you to do so. To get a court order, you’ll have to convince a judge that you have a legitimate concern about your child’s safety.
Taking your child without a court order could be considered parental kidnapping. This can lead to your losing custody or even criminal charges, particularly if you are not able to prove that your child was in immediate danger.
Figuring Out a Custody Plan
A divorce can be a stressful time for a parent. You’ll have to figure out a custody plan before a court will finalize your split. To get the best resolution it is important to understand some basic concepts of the law as it relates to custody and visitation. In California, there are two primary ways to hash out a custody plan.
First, you can agree to “reasonable visitation” without laying out all the specific details. (This works when the parents get along very well). Or, you can agree to a detailed parenting plan with the specific days and times that the children will be with each parent. If an agreement cannot be reached, you may have to seek an order from the court.
Consider Supervised Visitation to Protect Your Kids
Unfortunately, sometimes there are problems that lead to serious concerns about unsupervised parenting time. If you are concerned about your children’s safety and well-being, you can ask the court to deny visitation or order supervised visitation. Supervised visitation can be overseen by you, another adult, or even a professional agency.
Supervised visitation may be ordered by the court for many reasons, such as:
- To reacquaint the parent and child after a significant absence
- To give a parent time to address issues – like substance abuse – that make it tough to parent
- A history of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or substance abuse/mental illness
- When there is a parenting concern
- When there is a credible threat of parental abduction
When there are serious concerns about a parent’s ability to care for a child, the court may decide that it is in the best interest of the children no contact with that parent. This is done when the court finds that visitation, even supervised, would be physically or emotionally harmful to the children.
It is important to seek legal assistance when trying to navigate complex matters like visitation and child custody during the early stages of separation and divorce. Contact our family law attorneys for more information.