Would it be illegal to keep my kids from seeing their dad for their safety? 21 Answers as of May 17, 2011

My ex husband has had the kids every other weekend for a few years now, but he went in the army and his mother had them instead of him for the past year on his weekends. Now he is medically chartered from the army. Recently my daughter told me he hurt himself and come to find out he tried to kill himself. It’s written down in our divorce papers he gets them every other weekend, but I'm scared to have my children see him because he is not stable mentally. I want them to be safe and if he can cause harm to himself I'm sure he would to others.

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
No, it is not legal to withhold his visitations on the facts you have set out. Now, keep in mind, this is my opinion based on the facts you have provided. The real question you have to ask yourself is this: is it opinion or your personal fear or is there something which manifest itself in such a way you can articulate to a judge that he is a potential danger to the kids personally? Based on the answer to that last question, you have to decide how to proceed. But if you elect to withhold visitation, you are better off going ahead and filing the Petition to Modify first.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 5/17/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
If you deny him visitation, he could file for contempt for violating the order. Under your facts however, the court will side with you and order supervised visitation for the benefit of the children, most likely. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/12/2011
Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
You have to return to court to change the visitation order otherwise you are in contempt.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/12/2011
Cody and Gonillo, LLP
Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
If you think the children are in danger do not send them but you should immediately move to modify visitation to ask that it be suspended or supervised; and/or apply for a temporary restraining order at the courthouse where you got the divorce. Please act quickly.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 5/12/2011
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
It is not "illegal" to protect your children. But, the situation you describe indicates that it is very important to go back to the court to get a revised parenting plan that will spell your rights and decision-making authority and to impose whatever appropriate limitations on the father may be justified by his condition. You may or may not be correct in your opinion that your ex-husband might be a threat because you obviously have little confirmed information about his condition. If you are wrong, a court might feel you are in contempt of court by denying him parenting time, so it would be best for everyone that you get the court involved in making that decision.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 5/12/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    If there is imminent endangerment, you must file a Motion seeking to modify the parenting schedule. In the interim, you may seek an ex parte order terminating parenting time pending a hearing on the issue. You should consult with legal counsel immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 5/12/2011
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC | Lori C. Obenauf
    If you do not follow the court's order, then you can be held in contempt of court. If you have concerns about your children's safety, then you will need to gather evidence to support your concerns and present that to the court to modify the visitation arrangements.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/12/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    You would need to bring a petition to modify the parenting plan.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    If your husband has orders from the Court allowing him to visit the children, your denying him the ordered visitation would be a violation of those orders and subject you to penalties for contempt of court. You should file an OSC in Court if you wish to change the visitation orders, but on the facts you provided, it would be difficult to accomplish what you want. Your best move would be to retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to counsel and represent you in a visitation modification OSC, and to seek and obtain stronger evidence regarding the possible harm, possibly including a mental examination of your ex husband by a mental health professional, and seeking orders requiring your ex-husband's visitation supervised by a professional monitor.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    I suggest seeking emergency orders to change custody. If you are in my area, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    In Washington State, you need to immediately commence a modification action and ask for temporary relief suspending his residential time if you belief the children are at risk.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    If you have solid proof that your ex is an imminent threat to the children, then you have to do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of your children. To have the order changed in the meantime, you would have to file an action to have custody modified based on the material change in circumstances and what is now in your children's best interests. However, you should also encourage your ex to seek the help that he needs, so that the modification doesn't "drive him over the edge," so to speak. This will undoubtedly be a difficult decision for you. I hope that everything works out.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    If you have a current Judgment or order of the court if you violate it you could be in contempt of court and face sanctions from the Judge. Be very careful before you act.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    If it is truly an emergency of course you wouldn't let your children see him, but a real emergency is rare. Instead, seek an ex parte order suspending the visitation, file for modification of the parenting plan and set up a hearing for temporary orders. That's a lot and you'll probably need an attorney's help. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    You are not the one to decide if it is safe. You will need to file for a restraining order protecting the children so that the court can determine the danger. You can also seek the assistance of child protective services.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Berner Law Group, PLLC
    Berner Law Group, PLLC | Jack Berner
    If you live in Western Washington, please feel free to call my office to set up a free, no obligation consultation-in person or by phone-with an experienced custody attorney about your situation. Sounds like you need a safety net from the Court.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    You need to go to Court immediately to protect these children. Please contact me right away. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the telephone call and no charge for the first office visit.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    Your concerns are legitimate, but you need to file an Order to Show Cause, so that you can obtain Court orders. Bring the issues and your concerns to the Court's attention. If the Court sends the case to Mediation, and you do not get sufficient help or sympathy from the Mediator, then you can ask for an EC 3111 evaluation. A Social Worker will interview the two parents and the children, and then make a written recommendation to the Court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Noah A. Bradow, Attorney & Counselor, pllc
    Noah A. Bradow, Attorney & Counselor, pllc | Noah A. Bradow
    If there is a concern that he poses a risk to the children while he has them for his parenting time you can seek to a change in parenting time from unsupervised to supervised. You can contact my office to discuss this matter further and assist you with filing a motion to ensure the safety of your children.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/11/2011
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