Is it illegal to keep my children from their father if we were never married but he is on their birth certificate? 37 Answers as of June 28, 2013

I have not let my children see their father for about a month now. He has been very abusive verbally towards me and I do have a current restraining order against him. The last time he had the kids he called me with one of them crying hysterically then yelled at him and then myself, so I picked them up early. He and I were never married but he is on their birth certificate. Is it illegal to keep the kids from him?

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Walpole Law | Robert J. Walpole
This situation appears to be the standard. That is that most people do not, for whatever reason, file a lawsuit in court. The reason this is important is so that each parent will know what is required in reference to custody, visitation, and financial support. Once that is completed, these types of situations will decrease.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 8/9/2012
Law Office of Melvin Franke | Melvin Franke
Yes.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 5/29/2013
Victor Varga | Victor Varga
No, it is not illegal. If there is no custody court order in place, then you both have the right to see the kids. You need to file for sole custody immediately.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 8/7/2012
Law Office of Rhonda Ellifritz | Rhonda Ellifritz
Until he has established paternity through the courts, he has no parental rights.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/7/2012
The Law Office of Cathy R. Cook
The Law Office of Cathy R. Cook | Cathy R. Cook
As an unmarried mother, you have sole custody of the children. The father has no legal rights to them unless he pursues those rights in court. If, however, he does pursue those rights, you keeping the children from him can be considered by the court.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/7/2012
    THE LOCKHART LAW FIRM | CLAYTON LOCKHART
    If this person has admitted to being the father of the children, and this would be the case if he is on their birth certificates, then he has as much of a right to see the children as you have. If you feel like the children are in an abusive environment when they're with their father, then you're going to have to seek a court order to legitimately restrict their father's access to his children. Therefore, your marital status with their father is irrelevant when it comes to having access to his children. If paternity has been acknowledged, then he has a right to visit with his children unless there is a court order that says otherwise.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/3/2012
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    No, it is not illegal. However, you should consult with and retain an attorney in order to best determine how to proceed and handle the situation.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/3/2012
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
    He may petition the court for visitation but it should be supervised. You will not be able to stop all contact because that will not be seen as in their best interest.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/3/2012
    Perez-Jenkins Law, LLC | Patricia Perez-Jenkins
    Custody in MN for parents that are not married lies with mother in most cases. There are situations where mother abandons children to father and then father is the primary custodian. Usually however, mom is the one that retains the care of the children and therefore the presumptive custody of them both legally and physically. If he wants to have parenting time or custody, he will need to petition the court for that right. There is one exception to this and that is getting passports for the children. The State Department will want both parents to give permission to get passports if the father is on the birth certificate. Otherwise, all decisions are yours to make. If he should request the court for custody and there is abuse, I would advise that you keep track of it and if there are witnesses to flag them down and see if they would ever testify if need be.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    Unless there is a visition order goving him visitation rights, you do not have let him see the child or children.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Offices of Maryanne Spryszak-Hanna PC | Maryanne Spryszak-Hanna
    What does you custody Order and PPO say. If both are silent, you need to file for custody to have this mailed down.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
    If the father is the legal father, married at the time of conception or there is a valid affidavit of parentage, he has the right to visitation and the obligation to pay support. You should go to the local circuit court and bring a support and visitation action to establish supervised visits and child support.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
    If he signed an Affidavit of Parentage, that document would give you custody of the children. If there is no court order requiring parenting time, you could keep the children from their father.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    If there is no court order designating custody/placement, you have sole custody and can determine who your children see.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    John Russo | John Russo
    Don't cloud the issue, being married or not has nothing to do with it, he is their father just as you are their mother, all children have two parents, marriage is not a requirement to having children. Now if what you say is true and you have a R/O against him it would not be to hard to extend it to the children if you can show that he is abusive towards them. But you do not have the right to withhold the children from him if there is no court order giving you that right. Again if what you claim is true it would be very simple to seek the courts help in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    Unless there is an order from the court you may keep them from him. You would be wise to get court orders requiring supervised visitation only. Because he is on the birth certificate he is a parent and the court will grant visitation, unless he presents a risk to the children.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Return to court on a motion to stop current visitation and for father to pay for supervised visitation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    If there is no court order specifying visitation rights, then you should be within your legal rights to decide whether or not to let him see the children and under what terms.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Attorney At Law | Harry D. Roth
    You have to follow the court order, or go to court to ask that it be changed. If you have a restraining order against him, and you tell the judge the story you just related, his opportunity to see the kids is going to be constrained. Child custody is one of those areas where asking forgiveness being easier than asking permission is a really bad plan. Take your concerns about abuse to the judge and get orders. Self-help is going to be illegal in the long run.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    It is not illegal if no custody order has entered granting to the father a parenting schedule.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    When a custodial parent refuses visitation that is court ordered, without proper cause, the custodial parent can be held in contempt of court. You should read the factors that the court considers in setting the time-sharing between the parents in Florida Statutes 61.13(3). A quick way to lose primary residential care parent status is to refuse visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    This is not a question of "legal" or "illegal" - it is a question of whether or not the father has an legal rights that you are violating. Apparently, since you were never married there has never been any court decision that he is the "legal father" and spelling out specifically what rights he has. If that is correct, the simple answer is that the father's only "right" is to ask a court to give him specific rights of access to the child (Colorado calls it "parenting time") and until that happens you may lawfully deny him access. Whether what you are doing is "right" or "wrong" is another question entirely and eventually you may be judged based on whether your denial is justified as protecting the child or using the child as a tool for your own emotional revenge. You need to base you decisions solely on an objective evaluation of what is best for the child.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    If there are no court orders, there is no violation of court orders.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    Under Nevada law if the parents are not and were not married the mother has primary physical custody until a court says otherwise. Get the custody and child support issues settled by the Court. That way you have court orders that will be enforced.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    There is no simple answer, but the most important thing here is what is best for your children.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    You ask if it is "illegal." That term suggests criminal activity. The answer is no, it is not a crime to deny a parent parenting time. Also, if there is no order for custody or parenting time issued by a court with proper jurisdiction, then the father has no right to custody or parenting time at this time. The fact that he is on the birth certificate means (I assume you were never married because you did not state so) that you and he acknowledged that he was the father and signed an Affidavit of Parentage. This just means that paternity has been established. It does not give the father any specific rights to the children. It does however grant him standing to petition the court for a determination of custody and parenting time.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    The Law Office of Eric J Smith
    The Law Office of Eric J Smith | Eric Smith
    It sounds as if there has never been a suit filed or an order in place regarding support and access between this man and your children. If there is no such order in place, this man has no legal right to access to these children and you have no duty to let him see them. His being on the birth certificate does not create any legal presumption that he is the father of these children. If he wants access, he needs to file his own determination of parentage with the court, or you could start one on your own or through the Attorney General's office to get him required to pay child support. If there is an order granting access, you may be in violation of it.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Offices of Rachel Koch | Rachel Maxine Koch
    As long as there is no court order for visitation, he has no legal right to see the children in Illinois. If there is a visitation order, you should do an emergency petition to have it modified and include the restraining order as an attachment.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    It is not illegal for you to do so. If you deny him visitation, he may file a suit to establish custody and visitation. If he does, make sure you have justifiable grounds to totally deny him visitation as the judge will not look favorably upon you if you do not.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    No unless he has a court ordered visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC
    The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC | Elizabeth Zwiebel
    No. Until he has been adjudicated the "legal father" through DNA and a Judge's order, he does not have any rights in Alabama.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    I'd get court clarification or he will.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Offices of Christopher R. Smitherman, LLC | Christopher R. Smitherman
    As the mother it is not illegal for you to keep the child(ren) from their father. First, you should follow any court order from the restraining order case as to avoid civil contempt issues. Second, if there is not an order regarding custody and visitation.... he could refuse to return the child(ren) and law enforcement would consider that to be a civil matter and decline assisting a return to you. If that is the case, you should file for custody (and/or child support). If you have an order which allows visitation, that order should be modified if there are any safety issues.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Being on the birth certificate does not have the force of law as an order of paternity or an affidavit of parentage. Without one or the other, he is not recognized, legally, as the father.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    You should immediately seek a restraining order which includes the children due to abusive behavior towards them. It is illegal to keep the children from their father unless you have such an order.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
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