Ask A Lawyer: What Rights Do I Have With My Children

Question:

My ex wife and I have been divorced for nearly a year now, mainly because she was having an affair. She told me two weeks before I was set to deploy to Iraq.

We agreed that temporary custody of our children be given to my parents, since she had no job, no income and would be moving in with her parents.  The paper work has me as the sole provider for the children with my parents filling that role while I’m gone. It says nothing about who has legal or physical custody (only that I am sole provider). It then goes on to outline certain days and times for visitation for my ex to have with the kids.

The problem is I’m returning to the states very soon and need to know where I stand. When I get home what rights do I have to the children? Do they automatically revert to my custody?

 

Answer:

This is highly dependent on what state you are in, as well as how your parents have custody.  If they have custody pursuant to a divorce decree, then you most likely can simply do an agreed modification of custody from them to you.  Your ex can most likely oppose this or seek custody for herself.  If your parents have custody under some other form (like a guardianship), you probably need to seek custody in the divorce court and terminate the guardianship in the guardianship court.

It is unlikely that custody would simply revert to you.

 

Erik H. Carter is a Senior Attorney of the Cordell & Cordell, P.C. office in Indianapolis, Indiana as well as the Litigation Manager of both the Indianapolis and Pittsburgh offices. Mr. Carter has practiced since 1993 as an attorney. He is licensed in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania as well as the Northern District of Indiana and the Southern District of Indiana.

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