The father of my children refuses to allow them to leave with me during my parenting time, even though we have a 50/50 split custody arrangement. He threatens me, saying the police won’t help. My children finally want me to fight back, but it feels almost impossible.
File. File. File now. He does not have the right to unreasonably restrict your access. If he continues to do so, he could face serious repercussions. Don’t miss out on irreplaceable milestones and memories. There are options for bringing this issue before your judge, including a Petition to Enforce. You could also file a Petition for Temporary Orders, which is the quickest way to see your judge. Alternatively, a strongly worded letter from an experienced attorney might persuade him to act more reasonably.
Per A.R.S. §13-1302, a person commits custodial interference if, knowing or having reason to know they have no legal right, the person “Before the entry of a court order determining custodial rights, takes, entices, or withholds any child from the other parent denying that parent access to the child.”
It sounds like you’re relying on his assertion that the police won’t enforce your parenting time orders. Have you tried involving them? That might be an option. You won’t know unless you try. Typically, if the court order is clear and the police can determine whose parenting time it is, they will enforce it. However, you mentioned that you’re “considered homeless.” Is there a place where you can adequately care for the children during your parenting time? If not, the police might not enforce your parenting time since the children would need a safe place to stay. If you have temporary housing, that should suffice. It seems your children want to be with you, which is a significant advantage. Often, children refuse to go with one parent or the other, making enforcement harder. If you have suitable accommodations for them, even if temporary, you should go to the father’s place during your parenting time, demand the children, and call the police if he refuses to comply.
A qualified and experienced family law attorney can help you consider your options and guide you to where you need to be. Most offer free, half-hour consultations, where you can discuss your situation in detail and develop a plan. I encourage you to schedule this free consultation quickly.