Do I have to uphold my ex's child visitation rights if he is unfit and unstable? 31 Answers as of July 11, 2013

My ex has visitation rights, but has been in and out of jail, on drugs real bad, homeless. We have been divorced for 10 years, in those 10 yrs has never done anything for the kids. Just got disability, living with his sister. Not stable and all of a sudden wants the kids...do I have drive them there if he is unfit, even though our divorce papers say he has those rights?

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Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
It sounds like you need to do a modification through the courts of your custody and visitation plan that takes into account all of your ex's problems.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/12/2011
Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
The court order controls unless you modify it.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/26/2013
ROWE LAW FIRM
ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
If you are truly concerned about the children being in immediate danger of harm you should not bring them to your ex-husband. You should immediately file to modify the original visitation/custody decree to have a court determine what rights he may have, if any, under the new circumstances. You will be required to prove your allegations regarding his fitness or lack of fitness.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 7/1/2011
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
You have to obey the court order and allow access. But, you should immediately file a motion to modify custody and access (visitation) if you feel the situation warrants it.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 7/1/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
You should file a petition to modify the parenting plan.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/1/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Yes. There is a court order, you have to obey the court order. That is the legal answer. Now, there is a more practical answer - IF you are willing to justify yourself to a Judge, then do not take the kids, but be ready to explain why you believe he is unstable and how that affects the kids. The best option is to file a petition with the court to adjust the visitation based on the fact he is unstable.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/1/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    From your question, it sounds like there is already some sort of court order or parenting plan in place specifying "custody" and "visitation." Until the court changes that, that order is what you are stuck with. However, if your "ex" is really as big a danger to the children as your brief description implies, you can probably get a court to change that order. My advice, therefore, would be to hire an attorney and get back into court as soon as you can.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    You are required to comply with existing court orders and failure to do so exposes you to the risk of being held in contempt of court, if your ex chooses to complain to the court. If you do not believe the existing court order is still appropriate, you should take action to request the court to modify it to deal with the current circumstances. If there is an imminent threat of harm to the children, the court can temporarily suspend the father's parenting time rights until a full examination of the situation can be completed.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Deal & Hooks, LLC
    Deal & Hooks, LLC | Shawn P. Hooks
    The best thing you could do is to go to court to modify the order requiring you to take them to visitation so that you do not face possible contempt charges. As a general rule if you think that your children's safety is at risk because their father is under the influence of drugs or alcohol you may not need to have them go with him at that time, but you still would risk him possibly bringing you to court for violating a court order. You should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to discuss your options more thoroughly.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    You should file a supplemental petition for modification of your current timesharing based on the change of circumstances that no longer makes it in the children's best interest to spend time with the father. Technically, you have to uphold the court order; otherwise, you will be in violation and subject to contempt and sanctions. However, if you have genuine, legitimate fear for the safety and well being of the children and can adequately prove your case in court as to why you are denying the contact and that it was necessary to protect the children, then you shouldn't get in trouble for denying contact. Be very careful though, as you must be able to prove the legitimacy of your fears. Perhaps you could request that the sister supervise any timesharing and that would be an adequate safeguard for the safety of your children? Just a thought.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    You would need to file a motion for supervised placement given his history after divorce, and request an immediate order pending that motion. We have handled these types of situations. I'm not sure where you are located, but we have 3 offices.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    File a motion for modification.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    You may want to file a motion in the court that determined the original custody arrangement requesting that his rights be suspended. In the motion, you would state the reasons you feel this is appropriate. If you feel this is something that needs to be decided immediately, you can file the motion as an 'emergency' and the judge would decide if he will grant your request right away.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Stuart Jon Bierman  Attorney at Law
    Stuart Jon Bierman Attorney at Law | Stuart Jon Bierman
    The rule is a person always has to comply with a court Order until the Order is modified. You can file a motion to modify the Order and the Judge will do so if he or she deems it is appropriate to do that.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    You need to file a motion with the divorce court to modify the exiting order.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    the court order prevails until you petition the court to change it. you could be in contempt for not obeying it until a court determines whether he is unfit.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Generally, in Georgia, a person must comply with a divorce decree; however, you should consult with an attorney about your rights and options to file a modification action based upon these changes in the circumstances and whether you should ask the judge to modify visitation. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    In Georgia, if there is a Court order granting someone visitation rights with no restrictions, you can be held in contempt of Court if you do not follow the order. If there is a serious concern as to the children's safety, you must file a modification of visitation action to change the current order.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    If you have a problem with your ex visiting your children, file an Order to Show Cause to modify his visitation and request that his visits be supervised by a professional visitation monitor. You can get in trouble with the Court if you deny your ex court-ordered visitation. You would best retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    File a custody modification motion ASAP requested that father only have limited visitation until he becomes fit enough to have unsupervised visitation. And, if the kids are in danger of harm by being in his custody, you can of course decide to deny unsupervised visitation until you get a court order. Just be aware that if the judge thinks there situation was not dangerous for the kids, your restrictive actions could backfire. Best to call a local family law lawyer to discuss the particular facts of your case. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    You are always at risk when you don't follow a court order. Better to move to modify the parenting plan and seek an emergency ex part order preventing his contact.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    Generally you would need to follow the order. If there are circumstance that make you think the order should be changed, then you need to go to court to seek a modification.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    You should immediately file for a change of custody and visitation based on the changed circumstances. A court may be able to grant emergency orders for you if he is seeking to enforce his visitations. As each case is unique, you should consult with an attorney and request that they review your current visitation orders as well as assist you in obtaining new orders.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr.
    Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr. | John J. Ferry, Jr.
    If there is a custody order in place, you must comply with the order. If you believe compliance will put the children at risk, you should talk to an attorney about filing a petition to modify the order. In an extreme case, you can ask the court for an emergency hearing.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Jackie Robert Geller
    Law Office of Jackie Robert Geller | Jackie Robert Geller
    Yes, until you get a modification of the agreement. Talk to a family law attorney near you as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You must follow court orders regarding custody and parenting time. If you believe endangerment us occurring - you must file a motion and, perhaps, seek ex parts relief until a hearing can be held.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A.
    Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A. | John G. Miskey IV
    The standard is the best interest of the children.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Technically yes, or you can be held in contempt of court for violating the divorce decree. The proper method of dealing with this is to hire a lawyer to file a visitation modification action.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Willick Law Group
    Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
    While no lawyer can advise you to disregard a court order, if you believe the children would be placed in a position of physical danger, do what you must - but be prepared to explain it to a judge. Meantime - and quickly - secure counsel and file a motion seeking to alter the visitation order on the basis you describe.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    A very good way to lose custody or even end up in jail is to defy a court order. You MUST do what the decree says. (Unless it says you have to bring him the kids, he has to come get them). Given his history you may want to petition to modify visitation. To do that step one is get a good lawyer. When and if visitation is changed, your potential problem is possibly solved.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
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