When a couple with kids separates, it is the advice of the majority of the legal realm to do whatever you can to keep the children outside of the fight, and visitation is a large part of that effort. If a divorce begins on ugly terms, it can be extremely difficult for either parent to stick to their commitments when it comes to child visitation, especially if trust is broken. Any mistake made by either party can be taken as incompetence in parenting, and because of the emotion behind a divorce decision, that perception isn’t easily changed. However, solely having negative feelings towards your ex is not grounds to withhold your children from seeing them. There must be sufficient reasoning and evidence that there are issues with that parent – legally alienating a parent from their children is not a simple task, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If a visitation agreement has been set in place by the court, it is a legally binding document. And because each parent’s status is determined in court (which will be the custodial parent and which will be the non-custodial parent), any disruption of that legally binding agreement is considered a violation of the court’s order. In instances where there’s proof of any form of abusive – physical, sexual, and mental or emotional – or that the parent has an alcohol or drug problem, the courts will usually comply quickly. Or in situations where the non-custodial parent keeps the children for longer than assigned in response to any kind of withholding, the courts can see that as kidnapping and could charge the non-custodial parent with jail time. However, in situations that are less severe, it is very difficult to convince a judge to grant sole custody. The judge will more than likely regulate visitation differently, like adding a supervision requirement or by decreasing the amount of time assigned to the ‘unfit’ parent.
The main issues that the courts see are things like the custodial parent withholding visitation, the non-custodial parent purposely disregarding the set timeframe or schedule, or the non-custodial parent not paying child support, which are all considered violations. There are many divorce cases where the two individuals getting a divorce will not work together, and a lot of the back and forth fighting is based on an emotionally charged situation, so retaliation from either party or taking the law into their own hands is typical. Regardless of the violation, though, withholding visitation and withholding child support payments are both illegal actions. When the welfare of the children is compromised, the courts have to take action and punish the offending parties. The issues presented should be handled by each of the individual’s attorneys and the family court system. Too many parents try to take the law into their own hands or to determine how things should be, and that only causes problems in the long run. Not only will that type of reaction not stand in court, it can seriously damage the children and their relationships with each parent.
The main concern in a divorce where children are involved is to maintain as much peace as possible. If you don’t see any way to work amicably with your spouse, the goal is to remember how much this situation will affect your kids. Take the time to follow the proper course of action and get the help you need, whether from a counselor, an experienced attorney or a social liaison from the court system. If you are in the state of Alabama and need a family law firm on your side, contact us at the Alabama Law Group. We can help you assess your situation and make the right choices for your divorce proceedings. Call us today!