Child custody is often one of the more contentious issues in a divorce, and there are times when it has to be revisited even after the divorce is final. People’s lives and circumstances change, and this could mean you’ll need to renegotiate your custody arrangement.
Another sad truth is that the end of a marriage doesn’t necessarily mean the end of all conflict between you and your ex – and unfortunately, sometimes that conflict centres on your access to your children. If your ex is refusing to abide by your custody agreement and is restricting your rights to see your kids, or preventing your visits altogether, there are steps you can take to fix this situation.
Why Would Your Ex Restrict Your Access to Your Children?
It’s often helpful in these situations to find out why you’re being prevented from seeing your kids. Some reasons may be valid; others can and should be contested.
A valid reason why your ex might not allow you to see the kids is if they have reason to believe the children would not be safe. Any signs of abuse, neglect, or other unsafe environments are good reasons to keep the kids from seeing their other parent.
If that is not the case, it’s worth talking to your ex to find out exactly what the issue is. These are some of the reasons we’ve heard for restricting parental access:
- The kids don’t want to see their other parent. This does happen sometimes, for a variety of reasons. However, just like with the initial custody negotiations, children don’t have the final say in whether or not the see their parents, at least from the court’s point of view. Again, if they feel unsafe, that’s a different story, but most of the time it’s not their decision to make.
- Your ex doesn’t approve of your lifestyle. As we’ve said there are exceptions to this, but in general your ex doesn’t get to decide how you live. As long as the kids are safe, you should be able to see them.
- You’ve fallen behind on child support payments. As we’ve discussed before, child support and custody are separate issues, and one is not dependent on the other. Missing your child support payments doesn’t mean you don’t get to see your kids.
What to Do if You’re Unable to See Your Children
If your ex isn’t letting you have access to your kids, you don’t have to solve the problem on your own. The courts can help you enforce your child custody agreement. Here’s what you can do to help your case:
- Keep trying. Always arrive on time at your meetup place, even if you’re sure your ex won’t be there. Keep knocking on the door whenever it’s time to get the kids. Keep showing up at the school when it’s your day to pick them up. Call, text, or email the kids regularly to stay in touch, even if you’re not able to see them. This demonstrates that your relationship with your children is important to you, and can disprove any accusations of being a “deadbeat.”
- Document everything. Every time your ex doesn’t show up to drop off the kids or prevents you from picking them up, and every time you have a conversation about custody issues, write it down! Save any emails or text messages as well; these are admissible in court and can help your case.
- Keep your cool. Whatever you do, don’t fly off the handle and act impulsively, as you could end up inadvertently hurting your case. Always take the high road and stay calm when dealing with a conflict with your ex.
- Call your lawyer. This might seem like overkill, but disregarding a custody agreement is no joke, and you’ll want a good lawyer on your side. They may be able to help you resolve the issue without going to court, and if that isn’t possible, they’ll help you get through the process of getting your access rights reinstated. There’s no reason to struggle through this on your own!
Contact Galbraith Family Law for Help With Child Custody Disputes
If your ex is violating your child custody agreement, you’ll want expert advice from a qualified lawyer instead of trying to figure out how to deal with it yourself. This situation is not new, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you can get help from someone who has dealt with it before.
The lawyers at Galbraith Family Law have dealt with plenty of child custody disputes before, and we’d be glad to help you resolve yours. Send a message through our website or give us a call for assistance. In Newmarket, our phone number is (289) 802-2433; in Barrie, call (705) 302-1102.