Divorce takes some people by surprise. You may have known your marriage wasn’t in the best shape, but you didn’t expect to get served with divorce paperwork. The only thing worse than encountering an unexpected process server while going about your day is going home to discover that your family isn’t there anymore.
If your spouse packed up the kids and left when they filed for divorce, you probably feel lonely, hurt and possibly even angry. Do they really get to leave with your kids? How long will it be before you get to spend time with your kids again?
There could be a temporary custody order in place
When someone initially files for divorce, there is a waiting period that allows their spouse to respond to the filing. If there are minor children, it is typically necessary for the courts to enter a temporary order of support and custody, also known as the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.
You may have to start paying child support as soon as you and your ex separate. You could also have co-parenting or visitation rights immediately as well. In a situation where your spouse requested sole custody, you may have to wait to argue your case in front of the courts to secure visitation. However, it is unlikely for the court to exclude one parent by denying them visitation or parenting time unless there is a history of violence or substance abuse in the family.
If your ex won’t let you see or talk to the kids, that could hurt their custody case
It can be hard to keep the focus on the big picture when dealing with the short term and immediate pain of not getting to see your children or communicate with them. However, if your ex violated a temporary custody order by denying you parenting time or if they lied to the courts to secure the temporary custody order, that will not look good for them.
The judge making the final custody decision in your family’s case could consider that behavior a sign of parental alienation. If your ex is attempting to cut you off from the children or damage your relationship with them, showing that pattern of behavior could help you get more parenting time.