Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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When a Parent withholds custody

As detrimental as it is to the children of a separation or a divorce, sometimes one parent chooses to withhold the children from the other parent. They may feel they are the better parent and are protecting the children. They may just be angry and want to use the children as pawns to get back at the other parent. They may feel they have the right to determine the custody schedule for various reasons. Regardless of why a parent is withholding the children and keeping them from the other parent it is not something that either parent should take into their own hands. If you are the parent who is not seeing your children, you need to immediately file for emergency custody in the county where the children reside if they have been there for at least six months. If the children have not bee in that state or county for six months, then you need to file emergency relief in the state or county where they last resided for six months. If your ex moved out of state with the children less than six months prior, you will want to also seek relief that includes returning the children to the state, and possibly alerting the authorities if the other parent did not disclose their whereabouts. Waiting to file with the court can impact your case as the court will question why something was not done sooner. In addition, you should record all attempts that you make to contact the children both before and after you file. This could be text messages, letters sent to the house, phone calls made, and attempts to visit. You should be careful, however, in remaining calm as sometimes the other parent will then allege harassment or file a Protection from Abuse in an attempt to further gain control in custody. As difficult as it will be waiting to get into court, the sooner you file the sooner the court can remedy the situation.


If you are parent withholding, you should very careful that there is a legitimate reason which usually is only in the event the child is in serious physical bodily harm. In the event that you have chosen to withhold, the court will look at attempts to alienate the other parent as a factor in deciding to whom to award custody. If you feel your child is being abused, you should contact the Child Service Protective agency in your area to conduct an investigation as well as quickly file your petition for custody. Withholding out of spite or under the belief that you are the better parent can not only have serious consequences in the custody schedule that ultimately gets decided but can do serious damage to your children. Children should never be placed in the center of a custody dispute. The Courts favor a relationship with both parents, and in circumstances where it is warranted will place one parent under supervision. 

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