Exercising parental rights when no court order is in place

mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

Can I take my children from school when my ex says I can’t, and we have not been to court yet?


The rights, responsibilities, and ramifications of exercising your parental rights are affected by whether you and your ex were ever married, whether you are in the process of divorce or another action addressing custody and visitation, or whether there is a custody and visitation order in effect.

You state you have not been to court yet which indicates there is no court order regarding custody and visitation in effect. However, the law of your jurisdiction may have some default rules for visitation pending a court order that may also control your situation.

If there are any default rules for visitation that apply to your situation prior to a court order, you will need to obey those rules. When you do obtain a court order, it should address when you have visitation with the children, who is responsible for the children during the school day, and when and where you are to pick the children up for your scheduled visitation periods.

If there is no court order in effect addressing custody and visitation and you were married to your ex, you and your ex may have equal rights and responsibilities as to the children depending upon the applicable law.

If you were never married to your ex, your parental rights will be determined by applicable laws regarding paternity cases which may differ from the rights of married parents.

If a confrontation at school may result from you exercising your parental rights, you may end up with complications with the school or even law enforcement. You should also consider how your ex’s reaction in this situation will effect the children.

You may first try discussing the issue with your ex to see if you can reach an agreement regarding the issue, but the ultimate resolution of the issue will require a court order being entered.

If you wish to remove the children from school during the day, you should consider not only your custodial rights and your relationship with your ex and how she will react to such removal, but also the school’s rules and policies regarding removal of the children during the school day and the impact on the children’s education.

The specific approach to dealing with the issue depends on the facts of your case and the laws in your jurisdiction. You should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your area to discuss your options.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers across the country.


Erin Brockhoff is an Associate Attorney in the Belleville, IL office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Brockhoff is licensed in the state of Illinois, and the Southern and Northern Districts of Illinois. Ms. Brockhoff received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Psychology, magna cum laude, from Miami University. She received her Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society.

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One comment on “Exercising parental rights when no court order is in place

    My husband and his ex (never married) have an agreeded arrangment with no court order on child visitations and over the last few years she has tried to take more and more time away from him. Does he have any rights as a father to visitation with his children if there is no court order. His ex seems to think she has total control over wether or not he can see them. But that can’t be right because fathers have rights too don’t they?
    Please only respond to email because I am deaf and have a hard time on the phone. Thank you.

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