How can I see my kids?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How can I see my kids?

My wife took our kids to visit her parents and while she was gone she had me served with divorce papers. I had me idea she wanted a divorce and felt completely blindsided. I flew to TX to try and talk with her but when I showed up she refused to talk to me or let me see my kids. They have since returned to CA and I am giving them space, so I am staying with a friend. My wife continues to communicate with me and let me come to my own home to see our daughters. She is now saying that they are scared of me and that they don’t want to see me. I am devastated by what is happening. I do not want a divorce. I have not ever hurt my wife and children and am completely confused by what is happening. I want to work things out with my wife but am on eggshells when we talk text only for fear that I will lose any chance of mending our marriage but I really want to see my kids and make sure they are OK. What should I do? What are my rights as their dad? I feel like she is purposely putting them in the middle. She is planning on taking them up north for a few days and I will have access to my house again. I really don’t want her taking them anywhere. They are 12,14, and 16 homeschooled and very impressionable.

Asked on August 4, 2018 under Family Law, California


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The days of "Mom's automatically get custody" are over in divorce actions.  Many jurisdictions, including California, are moving to presumptions that both parents should be involved in the raising of children.  This means that you can file a motion with the divorce court for permanent or temporary orders so that you can (1) see your children and (2) be involved in the decision making when it come sto how they are to be raised.  Right now, it appears that you need temporary orders---these are orders which are entered early in the case to make sure that one parent does not withhold access to the children.  You file the motion for temporary orders and then contact the court's coordinator to arrange a time for the judge to hear your motion.  California is very pro-active about making forms available to pro se litigants.  However, I would strongly suggest that you get the assistance of a family law attorney.  The reason I am suggesting this is because it appears that your wife is already making attempts to alienate the children from you.  Alienation is becoming an increasingly difficult issue in family law cases.  Often, it not only requires legal intervention...but counseling intervention as well to undo the affects of the other parent's alienation attempts.  You can try to go this alone, but you may not have the skill to counter any false claims of abuse by your wife.
I know that you love her and you would like this marriage to work...but if she is coaching the children to be frightened of you, it will most likely take some extensive counseling to repair the marriage and the parenting relationships.   The main thing you do not want to do is to threaten or loose your temper or make overly emotional comments  in front of her or the that will most likely give her additional evidence of "anger issues" to try to use against you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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