What To Do If Your Ex-Wife Is Denying You Visitation With Your Children
You Have The Right To See Your Children
Divorce can be a very difficult time by definition, unfortunately approximately fifty-percent of all marriages in the United States currently ends in divorce. But right now you're probably not really concerned with any of that, you are most likely dealing with a flood of emotions and wondering what to do next and if you have an ex-wife, or soon to be, that is giving you grief about child visitation and custody, that is a whole new level of stress to deal with.
As a father trying to deal with child custody and visitation issues you are already at a disadvantage. Family law and family courts in most states are heavily biased towards the mother. Some states are a little better than others but for the most part, if you are a non custodial father, you already have at least one strike against you. Add to this the almost criminal child support schedules in most jurisdictions and you have a tough row to hoe when it come to child custody and visitation disputes. Being put at such a financial disadvantage can make it difficult to afford the fees of a good family law attorney and still be able to pay for housing and food for yourself and your children.
The good news is, although there are bound to be some expenses involved, there are many simple, common sense strategies you can employ to give you an advantage in court when your ex-wife is not allowing you proper visitation with your children.
You Need To Get Your Mind Right First
Over the years I have known and counseled dozens of men going through divorces and one thing I noticed was that many had no idea about the process and what they needed to do to protect themselves and their assets while going through such a traumatic time. This is a common sense guide for men to show them a road map for getting through a divorce with as little damage as possible to their emotions and their wallets. Many of these men had been divorced more than once and still had no idea of what they needed to do to avoid the common mistakes so many men make time and time again. And that causes many of them a lot of grief in the process.
There is one catch word I have used in all the instances I have helped a man through a divorce, "disengage". Divorce is a time when emotions run high on both sides typically with both spouses blaming the other, and often times lashing out verbally or physically. It is in these instances that more men get in serious trouble due to their divorce than any other. So I always tell those I am counseling the best thing you can do is disengage from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, emotionally, physically and in every other possible way. Even if you are hopeful of a reconciliation down the line, you must push the delete button for the time being. If you do not you risk doing or saying something because of raw emotion that you might not normally, and some of these things have been known to land people in jail or worse.
If you must have contact because of visitation or work, try to have a minimum of conversation and then only about things related to the children or business. Trying to talk to your wife about your relationship problems at those times is a sure recipe for disaster, and at best will only lead you to more emotional turmoil as you try to parse the meaning of every word that passed between you.
Step By Step
If you are a stand up guy, even if you move out before going to court you are going to still provide for your children be it direct payments to their mother or things they need like clothes, school supplies and food. And if you do this even in the absence of a court order then kudos to you, there are a lot of men who don't. However you also need to keep one of our mantra's in mind, document, document, document.
If you are going to give cash directly to your ex-wife for child support prior to a court order, insist on a signed and dated receipt. Or conversely you can write a check or use money orders, as long as there is some way to prove that you gave her money for the children's upkeep. Additionally if you buy things for the kids that they need, everything from baby formula to school supplies, log it in your journal and keep the receipts - You did buy a journal, didn't you?
Doing all this will prevent her from going in to court later and insisting that you have done nothing to help her with the kids since you separated, and again, I have seen this happen. For the time being, when it comes to your ex, remove the word 'trust' from your vocabulary.
The truth is that your ex has nothing initially that legally compels her to let you see your children. She can let you see them as much or as little as her scruples dictate, or not at all. One strategy, if you are able to talk civilly, is to hammer out a visitation agreement between the two of you and write it up yourselves. While this has no legal standing, it does often work as a temporary measure until the court orders a binding schedule.
Sadly, many times women use the kids as a weapon to hurt their ex because they know it is one sure way to really put the screws to them. If this is the situation you find yourself in during your divorce, it is time for you to get proactive. Earlier I said one of your new mantra's would be document, document, document. Well, this is never more true than in a situation like this.
Start off by suggesting directly, or through a third party, that you both sit down and come up with an interim visitation schedule that you both can agree to. Now since you took my advice and bought a bound journal, if she refuses, write down how you communicated your request, the date, time and her response. From now on you will be keeping copious notes on every interaction you have with your ex-wife.
From now on I want you to request to see your child(ren) every day that the standard visitation schedule in your state would give you if you had a court order for visitation. You can find the standard schedule on line or go to your local county courthouse and you can get a copy there.
Every time you make the request you will again document, time, date and her response. She may think she is getting one over on you now, but if you go in to court with weeks worth of denied visitation documented in your journal the judge is not likely to look kindly on her. I have seen several men who did just this one thing and were granted custody of their kids based on their documentation alone. Judges do not tend to like it when a parent is abusing their kids in such a way, and it is definitely child abuse.
Document, Document, Document - Securely
If you are more of a computer guy like me, there are even programs for your computer that you can use to input all this information and the application will track all this information and produce running totals for the month or year which you can then print out in charts or graphs. Very useful and powerful stuff to present in court. You can even use a spreadsheet or just type everything in to a text document if you like, as long as there is a record of everything you do as it relates to your ex-wife and your kids.
One caveat if you do choose to use your PC to keep your records, BACK UP EVERYTHING!! The last thing you want is a catastrophic computer failure destroying all of your documentation. The judge does not want to hear that the dog ate your homework, if it's not written down, it didn't happen. You can back up to a thumb drive, CD-ROM, upload to Google Docs, however you like, but be sure there are at least two copies of everything.
Help For Fathers
If you find yourself still overwhelmed by the magnitude of a divorce and custody battle, there is help available. There are several organizations around the country dedicated to helping fathers fight against a social services and courts system that is heavily slanted in favor of the mother.
One of the premier fathers rights organizations is called Dads Against Discrimination (http://www.dadsamerica.org/da.html). There are DAD chapters in thirteen states from coast to coast ready to help you in any way they can. They are a great resource for information, help with filing court papers and just plain old moral support during a very difficult process.
I would encourage you to contact them if you need help with anything regarding your parental rights. Or you can do an Internet search for fathers rights organizations.