Question: My brother has filed for divorce without using an attorney. His soon to be ex-wife will not allow him to have their daughter every other weekend like was customary. What should he do to ensure that he be allowed to see his daughter regularly until divorce is final, and how should he document his soon-to-be-ex’s resistance to allowing him time with his daughter? Also, any advice as to how to make hand-off times go smoothly and protect himself against her rage and possible threats to make false allegations?
Answer: If your brother is not represented by experienced family law counsel, he should consider consulting with a firm that can help him assess the strength and weaknesses of his custody situation, such as Cordell & Cordell. Temporary or interim court orders may be needed to resolve the immediate visitation problem. An attorney familiar with custody cases can advise if a temporary order is possible and how such orders may be obtained. Seldom is it necessary to wait for the final hearing in a case to get interim court assistance on custody issues.
Email is one of the easier methods of documenting custody issues. An email exchange with the spouse in which the problem is discussed may be useful is confronting the spouse’s refusal to cooperate with visitation. Witnesses to confrontations, police reports, personal notes, and other forms of memorializing events may also come into play. Text messages may be available, but are often less than complete or not saved.
When custody exchanges are tense or confrontational, a schedule under which the parties pick up or drop off at daycare or school is the best method to avoid the spouse and, therefore, the problem. If such a schedule is not an option, bringing along a witness, exchanges at public locations, or exchanges at police stations are sometimes suitable solutions. Many courts have dedicated child exchange centers for especially volatile situations.
Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.
Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.