HELP! My Ex Won’t Let Me See My Child
Being a parent is tough under any circumstances. When you have a child with someone whom you are no longer in a relationship with, due to separation, divorce or any other reason, it adds an additional layer of difficulty.
Co-parenting and sharing time with the child can often prove to be a challenge, even in situations where the ex-partners have remained amicable. But, what happens when things turn hostile and one parent prevents the other from seeing the child?
If My Ex Won’t Let Me See My Child, Can I Seek an Emergency Court Order?
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon question. Over the years, I’ve dealt with many distraught parents who contact me in a panic, saying “This is supposed to be my weekend with my son, but my ex won’t let me see my child ” OR “My daughter was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with me, but my ex won’t let me see my child. What can I do?”
The first thing to understand is that, while it is possible to seek an emergency Order from a Circuit Court, it’s usually not practical in these types of situations. The denial of access to a child may not be perceived by the Court as justification for an emergency hearing. Each Judge can, and will, decide that on his or her own. However, the bottom line is that these situations take time to resolve and, as painful as it is to not be able to see your child, it’s unrealistic to expect that the Court will be able to give you immediate relief.
What Steps Should I Take If My Ex Won’t Let Me See My Child ?
If you are being denied access to your child, the first step is to attempt to reach a resolution with the other parent. In most situations, parents know that it’s in the child’s best interest to spend quality time with both of them – and they truly want what’s best for their child. Often, once a little time passes and both parties “cool off,” they are able to come to a diplomatic solution. If you’re unable to reach an agreement on your own, your next course of action would be to consult with an experienced family law attorney, who can help assist you with the negotiations.
You should exhaust all efforts to work out an access schedule with the other parent before going to the expense of involving the court in the matter. Sometimes, mediation can be helpful. Ultimately, if you’re unable to resolve the dispute by agreement, a magistrate or Judge will resolve it for you. Except in the most unusual circumstances, a Court Order will eventually be issued providing both parents with clear, although perhaps not equal, rights of access to the child. However, most Judges and magistrates will tell you that, as parents, you are better suited to determine what is in the best interest of your child than he or she is, but that he or she will make the decision for you if you can’t.
The Importance of a Written Custody Agreement
In situations where you are co-parenting with an ex, it is always advisable to have some sort of written custody agreement in place that lays out, in clear terms, which parent will have the child when, and for how long. It should include an access schedule that covers overnights, holidays, exchange times, and any other details relevant to your specific situation.
Now, please understand that having an agreement doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be enforced by the Court, and it doesn’t mean that it won’t be altered in the future as a result of changed circumstances. But, in my 30 years of experience, having a written agreement in place up front helps avoid problems down the road. Both parents know they have the agreement to fall back on if a dispute arises and one party doesn’t “hold up their end of the bargain.” It can also help prevent situations like the one above. Basically, a written agreement keeps good parents doing the right thing.
Howard County Family Law Attorney Fred L. Coover of Coover Law Firm, LLC has been practicing divorce and family law in Columbia, MD for over 30 years. If you are facing child custody complications, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your options. We look forward to serving you!
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.