Do I have to let my son visit his father if he has substance abuse problems? 37 Answers as of June 16, 2011

Our divorce decree says I have full custody of my son. My ex-husband has liberal visitation. He has a drug and alcohol problem and is presently out of control! I fear for the safety of my family! Do I have to take my 7 year old son to him?

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
If the court granted liberal visitation than you have to comply with that unless you petition the court to change the visitation- perhaps to supervised visitation or other arrangements and the court grants your petition. You should hire an attorney to petition the court for a change of the visitation arrangements.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/16/2011
Vermeulen Law office P.A.
Vermeulen Law office P.A. | Cynthia J.Vermeulen
In Minnesota law, there are provisions for this type of circumstance of endangerment of children. In a situation where a parent feels the child or children will be endangered in the other parent's care, there are processes through which the parent can take immediate action. It is important to document the observations and information you have personally received that cause you to believe there is an unsafe situation during visitation. Share this information with your attorney, and he or she should be able to advise you what steps can be taken to protect your child. It is important to act quickly in contacting an attorney, as this is obviously an urgent concern. In addressing this issue, you do not want to risk being charged with deprivation of parental rights, a felony under Minnesota law, although this charge does have an exception for endangerment. It is essential that you consult an attorney as soon as possible.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 6/13/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
I don't know what "liberal visitation" means, if that was all that was specified in the divorce Judgment. If the Judgment contained more specific language than "liberal visitation", I would need to see the visitation provisions to advise you what you should and should not do in connection with his visitation. I don't know what conduct your ex-husband has manifested as a result of his drug and alcohol problem, how you know that he currently has a drug and alcohol problem, or what has caused you to fear for the safety of your family, so I can't tell you whether or not you have to take your son to your ex-husband. The best thing you should do is to consult, if not retain, an experienced Family Law Attorney to review the custody and visitation orders in the Judgment, discuss the specifics of what has been happening as well as what you know and your sources of information, to get the advice of the attorney as to your options. If you have strong, admissible evidence, your attorney should file an Order to Show Cause to modify visitation, to seek its termination and/or seek orders that your ex-husband's visitation be supervised by a professional visitation monitor, paid by your ex-husband.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/13/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
In Washington State, the parenting plan must be followed in good faith. From your facts, you should immediately seek a modification of the plan and seek temporary restraining orders.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/13/2011
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
You definitely should not let your son be around him if you feel it's dangerous. However, it is very important that you go to court ASAP and get the court to modify the order. Otherwise you are the one in violation of the agreement even if you are morally right. This is not a criminal law question - you need to speak to a family law attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    This is a family law question; I practice criminal law only.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You cannot unilaterally decide that no visitation will occur when you have a court order to the contrary. If you believe there is a risk related to parenting, you must file a Motion to modify the court ordered access.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    If there is court ordered parenting time, you have to comply with the court order unless is gets changed. If you believe the court order is not in your son's best interest, you should file a motion to modify the court order. Ex parte relief may be available if your son is really in danger.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    If you believe your son may be in danger if he is allowed to go to his father's, then you should present that information to the Judge who has jurisdiction over the case. You should consult with an experienced child custody or family attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    You should seek counsel form a domestic relations attorney and file an emergency petition to restrict or limit visitation. In order to modify visitation you should have the Court order same.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Well, if there are no defined orders then it is easier for you to withhold visitation. But I would recommend that you go to court and inform the court of his drug problem. When you withhold visitation, you always run a risk of the court getting upset that you are not allowing visitation. So, if there are issues it is best sometimes just to flush them out by telling the court you want to stop visitation of have supervised visitation due to drug problems.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    In general, if your parenting plan says that your ex-husband gets visitation, then, he gets visitation. However, there are steps you may wish to take. First, depending on how "out of control" he is, you may want to get CPS involved. If CPS determines that your ex-husband shouldn't be seeing the children, that will help you some, temporarily. Your next, immediate step, after CPS, should be to file a petition to modify the parenting plan, and set a temporary orders hearing. You should do this fairly quickly because CPS can only give you temporary protection from a claim that you are violating a court order. If your ex-husband is truly out of control, the court, at the temporary orders hearing, will likely make some sort of order changing the visitation arrangements on a temporary basis and ordering your ex-husband to get treatment.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You should report the matter to CPS and have them investigate. If you think the problem is really serious, you should file an emergency motion with the Friend of the Court to temporary suspend parenting time or at least reduce it to supervised visitation. You can do it on your own, but I would suggest having an experienced Family Law attorney represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    You say he is allowed liberal visitation so he get to see your son unless a court says otherwise. You would have to go back to court and get the visitation order modified.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    I would recommend consulting with an attorney who specializes in family law cases if you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances. If you had an attorney who represented you during the divorce, they may be a good choice. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations. The consequences for failing to comply with a court-order, if there is enough proof, can be harsh, but a person may be legally justified for their actions. It all depends on their particular circumstances. I would recommend consulting with a local family attorney to assist you with this matter or contacting the attorney you used for your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    This depends on the wording of the divorce decree. If you are concerned you can try to amend the divorce decree or file to change visitation in the family court.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Vermeulen Law office P.A.
    Vermeulen Law office P.A. | Jacob T. Erickson
    If you fail to follow a court ordered parenting time schedule you place yourself at risk for being charged with a felony. If you believe that the other parent is placing your child in danger, you must file a motion with the Court to modify the other parents parenting time.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I would recommend you consult with a lawyer in your community about the option of seeking a modification of your decree as to visitation. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    If there is a court order, you must abide by it. If you fear for the safety of your child, you should file a motion to modify the visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    The Law Offices of Mark Kotlarsky
    The Law Offices of Mark Kotlarsky | Mark Kotlarsky
    You should ask the court for supervised visitations.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    If you have a good faith belief that your son's welfare will be at risk by spending unsupervised time with his father, then you need to immediately file a motion with the court requesting appropriate orders, such as supervised visitation until father undergoes a drug/alcohol assessment, and then go back to court to review the results and fashion proper orders. You can request immediate orders (via an "ex-parte" filing) so you can get immediate court orders that father not be given unsupervised time until the assessment. You can refuse visitation in you can't get into court right away. However, that may backfire if the court doesn't believe that there was a risk to your son by being in dad's custody. Best to call a local family law lawyer for assistance. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    I think you are probably safe to withhold visitation if there is really a threat to the child, but you should seek the court's blessing at the same time by filing a motion to suspend visitation or require supervised visitation. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    No one can tell you to violate a Judgment of the court; but under these circumstances, you may want to file a motion to modify his parenting time; restrict it to supervised or suspend it until he can pass a UA; or becomes enrolled in a drug and alcohol program. But you take a risk of contempt for violating the Judgment if you deny parenting time. Just filing a motion to modify the parenting time does not modify it. The present judgment is still the standing order of the court. Having said not to violate the Judgment, you should call or write him a letter outlining that you know he has a serious problem that endangers your child; that until he gets help, he is a risk to the safety of your child; tell him that out of concern for the safety of your child, that parenting time is going to be suspended, but if you do this, you MUST file for a modification. You may want to call DHS and ask them for their guidelines and what would they say if they knew that you were giving your child to a person heavily under the influence of drugs and or alcohol while the child was present. You are walking on very dangerous ground; You need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Each state law is different, and you need specific information. Please consult a local domestic relations attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    You should petition the court to modify visitation so that your son is safe. Maybe drug testing, supervision etc. But you need to get permission of the court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    You need to consult a family law attorney who can help you modify the terms of the court order about visitation if you feel that is necessary. Call one ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Technically you would be in violation of the divorce decree if you block visitation. What you need to do is see an attorney as soon as possible and discuss a modification of visitation action based on your ex's substance abuse. The court can order supervised visitation, or suspend visitation totally until the problem is under control.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    See a family law attorney. My experience with the subject is that there are two kinds of custody. Physical and legal. If you cannot afford an attorney. Most courts have a family law facilitator. See that person. Will help you prepare motion, etc. re a modification.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Yes. You cannot defy a court order without risking being in jail. If you can prove what you say, your remedy is to get a lawyer, go back to court and see if the judge will change the order.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    In Washington, if there is an emergency, seek an ex parte restraining order and a modification of the existing plan. You'll need evidence. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Unless and until the court order is modified, you must obey it. You are probably eligible for an emergency order modifying visitation. If the Father has threatened your safety, you are also eligible for a restraining order. As part of that restraining order, you may obtain supervised or limited visits.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    You need to get a temporary restraining order based on those facts so that visitation will not have to occur.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    If there is a specific schedule you must have it modified and you should probably ask that any visitation be supervised.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    You are required to comply with the existing court order. If you believe compliance will threaten your son, you should promptly attempt to get a court order to change the rules. Between now and the time you can get a court order, you can deny access to the father but you do so at your own risk if your "fears" turn out to be unjustified in the eyes of the court. You should consult an attorney about how to seek assistance from the court.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/9/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    I would file an emergency motion to modify custody and visitation. If you are in my area and are looking for an attorney, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/9/2011
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