Do I have the right to know where my child is during visitation?
Generally yes, father and mother have right to know where the child is during the visitation. Custody and visitation are established through court order or judgment. The court order should have a special provision about notification of the child’s location during the visitation
What would trigger the question do I have the right to know where my child is during visitation?
The question do I have the right to know where my child is during visitation usually arises when:
- One of the parents often frequently drops the children off too late. The longer one of the parents delays the court-ordered return time, the more worries and uncertainties in the waiting parent’s mind. The parents always have a tendency to imagine the worst-case scenario – care accident, child abduction, emergency room … who knows what is in mom’s head.
- You have a reason to know that the children might be taken without your permission out of the local area, out of state, or out of the country.
The children are excited and talking about going to Russia, the other parent has a close tie to his/her country and quits his job, the relatives/friends from foreign country telling you the ex- had someone know he is planning to relocate, ext.
- You children, especially young children are behaving unusually after the visitation of the other parent and cannot explain properly why. The children could be unusually tired after visitation, the children might cry without explanation why, the children could be scared and express anxiety, ext.
- You are concerned that the other parent’s girlfriend or boyfriend is fit or safe to be with the children
Those are some, but not all reasons which might trigger the question do I have the right to know where my child is during visitation
Do I have the right to know where my child is during visitation – court order vs. no court order
At the beginning of this blog I stated that the GENERAL answer to the question do I have the right to know where my child is during visitation is yes. However, there might be a situation when there is no court order establishing a parent’s right and/or visitation. If the parents were not married and the father has not taken legal action. We have discussed this situation briefly in the blog can the mother keep away the child from the father
In order for the father to assert his right for custody/ visitation, he needs to file a paternity action.
If you don’t have established your parental rights through proper order, the answer to the question does I have the right to know where my child is during visitation is no.
If the parent were married and divorced, the child custody and visitation is established in the judgment or post-judgment court orders.
Even if you have custody order there are two possible variations – whether it is specifying that parent shall let each other know where the children are or is not.
Assuming the situation there is nothing in the current court order regarding that each parent shall know the location of the child during the visitation. One of the parents is calling another to ask where is the child and the other parent refuses to provide. The requesting parent is calling the police – a bad option. If there is no reason to think that the child is in danger, the police’s involvement would play against you, as an overprotecting parent and aggravate your relationship with the other parent. Even worst-case scenario if the other parent is narcissistic or abusive. In such a situation, you better not to contact him/her at all and try to allocate the child with different resources.
You can use smartwatches with built-in location tracking or iPhones with special apps or any other devices with the capability to track the child’s location. It is not always a perfect solution because you need to tell the child and the other parent what you are doing and it might invoke some complications. For example, your child might get some anxieties that he might be in danger if you are tracking his location. The other parent would feel distrustful and will do similar location tracking when the child is with you.
The best way to proceed if there is no provision about notification of the child’s location during the visitation in the court order, the parents should make a stipulation and order to include such provision. If one of the parents would like to stipulate and the other parent is refusing, the first parent can file a motion for modification. The motion would be probably granted and the court order would include the provision regarding notification of each other addresses. In such a situation ff one of the parent refuses to notify, the violation of the court order would entail serious consequences.
If you have a domestic violence restraining order against another parent, everything above does not apply and you do not need to disclose your address.
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