Bad Influences and Child Custody / by Cassandra Hearn

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Protecting and guiding children is the top priority for every parent.  It is always essential to make sure that the child is safe in every environment ranging from home to school to vacation.  After parents separate or divorce, this can become more nerve-wracking, as you cannot keep an eye on your child while he or she is spending time with the other parent.  In most circumstances, both parents work to make sure the child is safe.  However, it is not uncommon following a divorce or separation for one parent to get a new set of friends or a new significant other.  If that new person is not suitable to be around your child, there are steps you can take.

Following your divorce or at the end of your custody action, the judge will have signed a court order providing for parenting time as well as who has legal custody over the child.  In the vast majority of circumstances, the parents will share legal custody, meaning they have to work together to make decisions.  Accordingly, your first step if you are concerned about the new group of people your former significant other is bringing around your child is to discuss it with your ex.  It is possible that the fears you have can be put to rest through a reasonable discussion.

If your former spouse or partner refuses to abide by your wishes to keep a particular person away from your child, you can file a motion with the court.  As with any modification action, you will need to demonstrate not only that the circumstances have significantly changed since your last order or the divorce was entered, but also that the change you are requesting for the court is in the child’s best interest.  In this context, you will need to demonstrate that the person’s relationship or at least exposure to your child has developed since the order was entered.  You will also need to show that the person is so inappropriate that the court should override your ex’s decision making authority and require that he or she not allow this person in your child’s presence.  Note that the court cannot order that person to stay away from your child, as that person is not a party to the custody action.  The judge can only order your ex to stop allowing the person in your child’s presence

Custody cases have many complicated layers and we can help. If you have questions, contact us today.We can talk about your children and what we can do to help protect them.