What are my legal rights as the primary guardian? 4 Answers as of August 04, 2011

I have been divorced 10 + years and our parenting plan states the 2 children will live with myself (Mother) and have standard visitation with their father, every Wednesday and every other weekend. My ex moved to Arizona 4 or so years ago and has had sporadic contact with his kids. I paid to fly the kids for a visit this summer and now my 13 year old son advises he wants to stay and live with his Dad. What are my legal rights as his primary guardian? Can his father keep him in Arizona?

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Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
If the parenting plan says that the children are supposed to be with you and your ex-spouse refuses to return them, at very least he is in contempt of court. You could bring an order to show cause to have the court hold him in contempt. Assuming the court finds him in contempt, the court could fine him, award attorney fees against him, and in some cases put him in jail. Also, each state is supposed to give "full faith and credit" to the custody determinations of other states. Therefore, you could hire an attorney in the state where your ex is located, send that person a certified copy of your parenting plan, and have it enforced against your ex in that state. Your ex-spouse may even be guilty of parental kidnapping. This is a crime, and could get your ex-spouse substantial jail time. So, you do have some tools to get the children back here. However, I would not wait too long if I were you. I say this because there is a chance that the longer you wait, the more it starts to look like you have acquiesced in a change in custody.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/4/2011
Glenn E. Tanner
Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
You should not have paid for all of the flight.You should have modified your parenting plan long ago.In any case, your "rights" are spelled out in your current plan.Your residential time is stated in your current plan.If hyour son is not returned to you in accordance with that plan, the Father is in contempt of court.The 13 year old doesn't get to decide.You need to inform the Father when and where the child is to be returned.If the plan says the "receiving" parent does the transportation, then you arguably have to go get the child.Once you get all of yoru children back, petition to modify the parenting plan or get any changes to your existing plan put into writing and signed by your ex before you deviate from your existing plan.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/3/2011
Seattle Divorce Services
Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
Under Washington law the rights of each parent are governed by the parenting plan. If the child is supposed to be with you and the father will not return the child to you, you may need to bring a motion to hold the father in contempt of court for not following the parenting plan, and to specifically require him to return the child to you.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/3/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
He can't just keep him. He needs to file a modification action. Until a court permits the change in custody by court order, the existing court order (i.e., parenting plan) controls.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/3/2011
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