If you are the divorcing parent of a child, the normal divorce procedure will involve some extra steps. The family court system places a very high priority on the health and well-being of children under the age of 18, so you and your spouse will need to come to an agreement on things like child custody, child support and visitation. The parent who ends up not getting physical custody of the child, in most cases, has the right to visit the child. These arrangements are meant to foster the child-parent relationship and to lessen the impact of the divorce on a minor child. Sometimes, however, the best laid plans can go wrong. Read on for a better understanding of how to deal with some potential visitation issues.
When Problems Crop Up
You may want to believe that your spouse cares for your child with the same degree that you do, but unfortunately that is not always the case. If you believe that the well-being of your child is in danger, you must take swift action. Some potential areas of concern include:
- Exposure to drug use
- Being cared for by an alcoholic ex-spouse
- Possible criminal activity by your ex-spouse
- Your child is being physically or emotionally abused
- You suspect, or know, that the home of your ex is unclean or otherwise inappropriate for a child.
- Your ex is leaving your child with someone else during visitation.
When you know there is a problem, don't waste time. While your first impulse may be to deny visitation, you must proceed cautiously. You cannot simply go against the original child visitation order if you suspect a problem, you could be held in contempt of court or even lose custody yourself if you bring false accusations. Not only must you be ready and able to prove any allegations of bad behavior, you must take the correct actions:
- If you feel your child is in immediate danger, ask your attorney to request an emergency hearing to temporarily suspend visitation arrangements until the matter can be further investigated.
- Report any illegal behavior to law enforcement; the report and investigation could serve as evidence to get visitation arrangements permanently altered.
- Have your child examined by a doctor to determine what, if any, abuse took place. Keep any reports and records from the doctor.
One of your first calls should be to your divorce attorney, who will advise you on your course of action and file the appropriate paperwork with the family court.
For more information, talk to a company like Larson, Latham, Huettl Attorneys.