When a couple splits up, anger, blame, and hurt can cause one or both spouses to act negatively against the other. Whether true or not, accusations of abuse and other misconduct can occur. In addition to impacting reputation and freedom of movement, if one parent accuses the other of abuse and obtains a protective order from the court limiting your contact with your ex, this can impact access to the kids. Even if it doesn’t address your access, your spouse may use the protective order to keep you from your kids. If your spouse has obtained a protective order against you and is preventing you from seeing your children, taking the situation seriously is crucial. Here are some steps you may want to consider:
- Review the Protective Order:
Carefully review the terms of the protective order to understand the restrictions placed on you. There are different kinds of protective orders of different durations. You need to understand what is required of you in the short and long term. Violating a protective order can have serious legal consequences, so knowing and complying with its terms is essential. In addition, failure to abide by the terms of the protective order can make a bad impression on the court deciding child custody and visitation issues.
- Consult an Attorney:
Contact an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance on your specific situation. They can help you understand the legal implications of the protective order and advise you on the best course of action.
- Attend Court Hearings:
If there are court hearings related to the protective order, make sure you attend them as required. When you appear in court, be respectful of the proceedings. Take the time to prepare for the hearing, and bring any materials or information requested by the court. Dress appropriately, wait your turn to speak, and avoid interacting with your ex even if you want to.
- Explore Mediation or Counseling:
Depending on the circumstances, it may be helpful to explore mediation or counseling to address any underlying issues that led to the protective order. Consider counseling for yourself even if you deny the allegations, as it can help you to process the situation and be prepared for future hearings or other encounters. Showing a willingness to resolve the matter without conflict and working on your own issues could potentially lead to modifications in the order or a more amicable resolution.
- Comply with Court Orders:
If the court has issued specific orders regarding child custody or visitation rights, it’s crucial to follow them. Failure to do so can negatively impact your case. Being on time for pickup and drop off, respecting the location and limits on your custody and visitation rights will show the court that you can comply, and it can lead to a better outcome in any subsequent modification.
- Gather Evidence:
Gather evidence supporting your case, such as documents, records, or witnesses, that can attest to your ability to safely and responsibly care for your children. While you may want to focus on an attack on the allegations made by your ex, you should concentrate on the children, your relationship with them, and your ability to parent. You are no longer with your ex, so the critical evidence shows the court that you can comply with a custody or visitation order and keep the best interest of the children at the forefront.
- Request a Modification:
If you believe the protective order is unjust or if circumstances have changed since its issuance, you may be able to request a modification in court. Keep your eyes on the prize – your relationship with your children – and focus your attention and arguments on how you expect to parent. Make and be open to suggestions that minimize contact with your ex.
- Maintain a Civil and Respectful Attitude:
When it feels like the accusations are false or unfair, it can be hard not to want to confront your ex and try to clear your name. However, you need to decide on your priority – is it proving your ex is wrong or having access to your children? Maintaining a civil and respectful attitude throughout the legal process is essential, especially when dealing with your spouse. Disruptive or aggressive behavior can harm your case.
Every situation is unique, and the legal process can vary depending on your jurisdiction and the specific details of your case. It is critical that you consult with an attorney to get advice tailored to your situation and to understand your rights and responsibilities.