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I live in Wilmington, North Carolina and am recently separated. Can I refuse to allow visitation to my child’s other parent? What if the other parent says I cannot see my children?

Often my clients want to know what their rights are when it comes to seeing their children after they have separated from their spouse or significant other. Sometimes they may still be living in the same home and want to find out what the rules are about custody when they have finally made the decision to leave the other parent. They want to make sure that their child is safe and that they are not doing anything that could negatively affect a future custody dispute.

Is there an order in place?

The first step is to identify whether an order is currently in place. Typical orders include a family court custody order, a Department of Social Services Safety Assessment Plan, Domestic Violence Protection Order, or Conditions of Release and release Order from a criminal charge are all examples of existing plans which describe or affect the visitation rights of a parent.

It is imperative that you understand and comply with the terms of any order. Failing to do so could expose you to criminal consequences and affect future custody determinations negatively. We can properly advise you of whether you have an existing order or restrictions.

What if there is not an order?

If there is not an order in place, each parent has equal rights to see the child. Legally, neither parent may refuse the other visitation. Practically, the parent who is physically with the child effectively has a “veto” power over the other. Call to get answers to your specific questions.

Can I obtain access to my child? Can I block access to my child?

Sometimes a client will tell me that their child’s other parent will not allow them to see their child. The reasoning behind a parent wanting to block the other parent’s access to the child vary. In these situations, the refusing parent may be seeking child support or other money before they will agree to visits, or they may be angry with the other parent and blame them for the ending of the relationship. Other times, the refusing parent may be a victim or alleged victim of domestic violence. They may have concerns for the child’s safety or fear that the other parent will take the child and never return. In both situations, parents want to know if they (or if the other parent) is doing anything wrong by not allowing the other parent to see the child.

People often turn to law enforcement for assistance in seeing their child. In most situations, the law enforcement officer will inform the parties that it is a civil matter that needs to be handled in the family courts. The person attempting to gain access is left without recourse. Likewise, the person trying to protect the safety of their child is left without protection.

Regardless of the situation, there are many options when it comes to obtaining or blocking access. We can advise you of your rights in your specific situation and suggest the best strategy to obtain your goals. You can speak to an experienced, knowledgeable, caring legal separation attorneys about your custody rights in New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Wilmington, Hampstead, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Hampstead today by calling (910) 341-7570.