My wife has made it difficult for me to see our children ever since she asked for a divorce last month. She frequently takes the kids with her on weekend trips out of town to see friends and family.
It seems as though I’m at her mercy when it comes to my right to see my children. What can I do?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
There are two types of custody, physical and legal custody. Physical custody is the amount of time that each parent physically spends with a child, and legal custody is the decision-making ability with regard to the child.
Until such time as a custody order is entered with the court, it is presumed that both parents have equal rights to a child, both physical and legal custody. This means that each parent can spend as much time as they wish with the child and must make all major decisions with regard to the child’s health, safety, and welfare together.
However, without a court order, neither parent is obligated under the law to seek the other parent’s approval for a custodial schedule or with regard to making major decisions.
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In determining a custody award, the paramount concern is what is in the child’s best interest. The court will take into consideration many factors when determining what is in the child’s best interest.
The factors include such things as what parent will promote an ongoing and healthy relationship with the non-custodial parent, who has been the primary caretaker of the child, how far apart (distance) are the parent’s residing from one another and, dependent upon the child’s age, what the child would want in terms of a custody schedule.
Typically, parents’ rights to custody of their child will not be terminated unless the court finds that the child’s safety would be in danger if the parent has custodial time or unless the parent voluntarily terminates their rights. Again, until such time as a court order is entered, each parent has equal rights to the child.
In order to determine each parent’s custodial rights, both physically and legally, it is important to obtain a court order. When a court order is entered, it can be very detailed, thus there would be no question about who has parenting time on any given day.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.