Both Moms and Dads Have Equal Access to Parenting Children Absent Any Court Order to the Contrary

I’ve had a couple of cases recently where divorcing parents are separated and Mom controls Dad’s access to the parties’ children.  These are not children in the sense of infants or toddlers, but teenagers.  Dad has just lived with the situation and has not challenged Mom.  The foregoing is an example only. I’ve had plenty of cases where Dads were the controlling parents and kept Mom away from the children  I am not talking about families where one parent has safety concerns.

I’ve noted that in most cases the parent denying  access to the children is fairly verbally aggressive and controlling while the other parent is easy-going and non-confrontational.  Non-confrontational parents don’t challenge  things as they are in an effort to preserve peace for the sake of the children.  Controlling parents seem to have a deep-seated belief that the children belong only to them.    The controlling parent is so focused on his or her feelings that he or she completely disregards the children’s feelings.

Keeping a child away from the other parent is harmful to the child and tantamount to destruction of that parent-child relationship.  Whatever the parent’s gripes with one another, the children are not part of that situation and neither parent should deny access to the other parent.

Minnesota law grants both parents equal access to the children unless there is a Court Order stating otherwise.  The foregoing assumes that Dad is named the legal father of the children via a paternity order.   A legal action may  be necessary to remedy this parenting imbalance, but there are other means a parent could try first.  In my practice, I may approach this dispute by pointing out the law and offering to set up a mediation where both parties may air their concerns; professional family counseling may be an option; educating both parents may be an option; but, in cases where conciliatory actions don’t produce equal access, then the parent denied access should bring an action to protect his or her rights as a parent.

The children are getting older and time with them will never come around again.  So– don’t sit on your rights Moms or Dads. Absent a Court Order to the contrary both parents have equal access to their children. Neither parent has a right to deny access to the other parent.   Children have a right to a healthy loving relationship with both parents.

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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