What can I do if my wife takes my kids away from me during our separation? 27 Answers as of June 07, 2013

Me and my wife are not legally separated. Can she with hold the kids from me? And if she does, what can I do?

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Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
If you are not legally separated then you and your wife share equal rights to custody of the children. You can either work out a visitation schedule with your wife, pending the divorce, or file a complaint in the family court to obtain legal custody. You will be able to get a preliminary decision on custody while the divorce is pending. Once the divorce is final you will get a final decision on custody, visitation, child support, etc., but in the meantime you can obtain an temporary order regarding custody.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/8/2011
Holmes Law Offices
Holmes Law Offices | Martin M. Holmes
Until there is a court order changing the circumstance both mother and father have equal rights to the care custody and control of the children. If your wife withholds the children from you then you need to get a court order determining custody and parenting time. Do not delay in retaining an attorney. If you wait you might t find yourself having to go to another state or foreign country.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/8/2011
Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
If you and your wife are no longer living together, then you should consider filing a (temporary) custody petition to ensure that you have equal access to your children. The petition will outline visitation schedule and decision-making authority while you and your wife are separated. The court will then review the petition and enter an order. Each parent has a right to have a relationship with his or her children. The parent who denies access to the children would be in violation of the custody order and be penalized by the court.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/8/2011
Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
Each parent of a child born within a marriage has equal rights toward that child. Unfortunately, when one parent is not playing fair, it leaves the other parent with two options. You can steal the children back from one another. This is clearly not in the best interest of the children and may hurt your chances of gaining majority timesharing. Secondly, you may start the divorce process and take this up with the courts. This would be the recommended solution. I suggest you consult an experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 9/8/2011
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
Go file a Custody Complaint to be heard on your preference if she will not voluntarily allow your children to spend time with their father.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 9/8/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    If there is no Court order regarding your rights to have the children then she can withhold them. You really need to get a Court Order regarding this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Parents have equal rights over the children until the Court rules otherwise. If you do not want to get help from the Court, then you have a case of competing equal rights.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    The Law Office of Erin Farley
    The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
    Your wife can withhold the children from you, but withholding children from a parent is not an action that a court will like. It could work against her. If this happens, you will want to immediately file for a custody and visitation timeshare. Because it generally takes 6 to 8 weeks to have a hearing, you may need to file an ex parte request asking for an immediate schedule for your children to see both parents (an ex parte request is determined within 2-3 days by a judge without a formal hearing). Ex parte requests must be timely, so if the children are withheld, do not wait. If wife won't let you see your children, I urge you to see an attorney. Absent abuse or neglect, children have a hard enough time during a separation - adding the loss of a parent to that mix is devastating for them.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    You may need to file something in court requesting a custody arrangement and visitation schedule - this can be filed in conjunction with a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
    Hire a lawyer and file an OSC.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    You can consult with and retain an attorney and file for divorce. Technically, she cannot withhold the children from you. However, there is little you can do without a judge's order, which you can get during the divorce process.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Unless you have a court order establishing who has physical custody at what parenting time the non-custodial parent has, there is nothing you can do. In absence of an order, each of you has as much right as the other to the kids, but if you try to forcibly remove the children, your wife may end up calling the cops and you will find yourself arrested for domestic violence. Get a lawyer and get an order.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    File a motion with the court requesting orders on custody and visitation. Best to hire a local family law lawyer to help. If you can't afford a lawyer, then contact the free legal self-help center at your local courthouse. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Until there is a court order to the contrary, married parents have an equal right to have the children in their care. Where a divorce is anticipated, the situation can become an untenable tug of war with the children between parents. Moreover, depriving a parent of contact withtheir children without good cause can be considered by a court when a custody determination is made. In most cases, the children are better served by mediating a custody and parenting schedule until a court can hear the issue as part of a custody, legal separation or divorce case and issue an order based on what it believes to be in the best interests of the children.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
    Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
    When a spouse keeps the other parent away from the child(ren) without good cause such as domestic violence, the best way to get control of the issue is a strong demand from an Attorney, and if that does not work seek the assistance from the court. If a parent fails to go to court, and lets substantial time pass without seeing the child(ren) that fact can come back and haunt that parent in the legal proceedings. This is not to mention, BOTH parents should be spending time with the child(ren) because it is in their best interest. Do not EVER let a parent get away with using the child(ren) as a pawn in a divorce, legal separation, or life in general NEVER-EVER!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Until you go to court she can do what she wants. Get a lawyer ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    You can file a divorce or legal separation case and seek custodial or visitation rights from the Court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    No. Get a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/7/2013
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    She can withhold the children until you take her to court seeking a clarification of the custodial, residential and visitation rights. They will also review child support. You would be seeking a legal separation and would require the assistance of a domestic relations attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Until there is a court order spelling out what each parent's legal rights and authority is, each parent has exactly the same, unspecified rights and authority. There is no such thing as an "illegal separation" so until there is a court order issued as part of a divorce or legal separation, all you can do without doing harm to the children is to file a petition with the court to have parental responsibilities established.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    She can withhold the kids. Your only recourse is to file for divorce or legal separation and seek temporary custody and/or parenting time. The court will order that the kids remain in their home.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    If your relationship is at an end, you need to file a petition for divorce and with that a motion to get court ordered custody and visitation of your children.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/7/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Simply put, we recommend you see a divorce lawyer about your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/6/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    This is a common problem for divorcing couples. You will need to get a Temporary Order in place to establish your respective custody rights pending the divorce. You should contact to a divorce attorney as soon as possible in order to get this underway.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/6/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    Until such time as there is a case filed and some sort of order issued by the court, both parents have equal rights to the children. As a practical matter, this means that whoever happens to have possession can withhold them from the other parent. However, unless she has a very good reason for withholding the children, the court is going to be unhappy with her for doing that. So, I suppose what you need to do is to get a case filed and a temporary orders hearing ste.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/6/2011
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