When Will I Get to See My Children?

Has your spouse petitioned for divorce and is now keeping your children from you? If so, you are likely wondering when you will get to see your children. There are several scenarios that could affect when you will be able to see your children.

Traditional Litigation Approaches

If your spouse simply refuses to allow you to see your children, and there is not yet a court order in place governing when each parent has time with the children, you may have to wait a few months before you see them. Of course, you have just as much right to your children as your spouse. But if your spouse is refusing you access, it likely isn’t in your children’s best interests to force the issue and cause an altercation. Depending on your situation, you may need to move for an emergency hearing to have the judge decide temporary timesharing as expeditiously as possible. Even in situations where a parent is denying the other parent access, a judge may require that parties mediate before allowing a temporary relief hearing to be set.

If the other parent has filed a domestic violence injunction against you, you’ll have to wait until the hearing on that petition occurs. These usually occur within a couple of weeks from the entry of the temporary injunction. However, parties, attorneys, or judges oftentimes delay the hearings several times for various reasons.  This can be frustrating to the parent who is not allowed to see his children. At the hearing on the injunction, the judge should order a temporary timesharing schedule.

If there is already an order on timesharing in place, you will need to move for contempt.  You may then be able to enforce the order and obtain a pick-up order. These hearings are generally, though not always, set expeditiously.

Alternative to Child Custody Court

You may be wondering if there is an alternative to just waiting for a hearing. There is! In alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative practice, professionals will help you both to come to a reasonable agreement that allows you to see your children more quickly than just waiting on a judge. And parties who negotiate their own agreements are more likely to abide by them. Keeping divorces and child custody matters out of court benefits all parties involved, including your children.

Adam B. Cordover practices exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution.  He is co-editor and co-author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on Collaborative Family Law.