Separation can be stressful for both you and your children. In fact, children are the most affected ones when you and your partner have decided to call the relationship quits. Remember that separation from your partner may also mean not living with your children anymore, especially if you’re the one who leaves your family’s primary home. Below are the things to know legally when separating and you have children.
If you’re separated from your children, it’s best to make decisions with the other parent about taking care of them rather than making decisions on your own. You can keep these arrangements informal as the court doesn’t decide where your children live if they think that you can sort things out with your ex-partner.
During separation, you’re both responsible for the costs of your child’s care even if you’re not the one staying with your child. If you’re the parent who moves out, you still have the responsibility of providing maintenance and care for your children.
However, if you can’t decide these things on your own, you can go to court to seek a decision regarding your children’s maintenance, especially if the support is for the following:
- School fees
- Additional needs if you have a disabled child
- Children who have non-resident parents living abroad
- Children taking further education
Considering these circumstances, remember that a court’s decision is binding for you and the other parent, so you’re expected to comply with the jury’s final judgment regarding your children’s maintenance. Your failure to do so may mean facing severe legal consequences in the long run.
Custody and Other Parental Rights
In many cases, children aren’t expected to choose between their parents because where they will live is up to the parents. In other words, parents can decide between themselves as to how and where their children should live after they’ve separated.
But in situations where the parents can’t agree, the process of determining where your children will stay may become complicated. That’s why state laws, which may vary depending on where you reside, have provided resolutions for any dispute arising from disagreements about child custody and other parental rights.
Remember that custody and other parental rights can typically be resolved in these ways:
- Informal settlement negotiations (these usually take place with the assistance of attorneys)
- Out-of-court alternative dispute resolutions such as mediation (typically work with the help of lawyers)
- Court decision promulgated by a judge.
If custody has been given to you, the responsibility of making important decisions about your children is vested in you as the primary parent. However, things will be a bit different if you and your ex-partner have been given joint custody wherein you share the responsibility of bringing them up together. In joint custody, both of you have a say in your child’s education, and the activities he or she enjoys.
Keep in mind that visitation rights are given to parents who are not living with the children. It’s a legal right that any parent can exercise under the law. Although the child’s custody has been vested to the other parent, you are still be able to perform your parental duties by exercising your visitation rights.
In almost all cases, you have the right to spend time, visit and talk to your children about their health, education, and most importantly … ask how they’re doing.
No matter what, you shouldn’t forget that what’s given to you are visitation rights, meaning you’re not legally allowed to keep your children without the consent of the parent who has custody of them. Even though you may worry about their welfare when they return to the parent with custody, you can’t still assume custody without instituting proper legal action with the help of lawyers and the court for you to keep your children in your care.
Violations of Parental Rights
Parental rights are essential, especially in situations where parents are separated from each other. However, these rights can also be terminated when the court finds cause to do so. Bear in mind that laws protect children. That’s why any parent who fails to provide for their child’s physical, mental and emotional needs can be legally convicted of a felony.
While each state has its own laws for terminating parental rights, the following are common reasons for such termination:
- Abuse or neglect
- Failure to support the child
- Involuntary termination of the parental rights to the child.
- Long-term alcohol or drug-induced incapacity of the parent
- Mental illness of the parent
- Sexual abuse.
Separating from your children can be a painful process. Even though you will experience the physical and mental side effects of being separated from them, you still have to perform your duties as a parent. If you’re going through a legal battle and working to protect your parental rights along with that of your property, consult an experienced attorney who will help you understand the laws and how decisions involving your children are made.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about the legal aspect of separating when married with children. To understand the subject matter further, seek assistance from a licensed attorney.
Daniel Grate is a professional writer in the law industry. She writes pieces on various law topics for the common reader. In her spare time she spends quality time with her family and friends.