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Child custody visits with the in-laws: What are your rights?

Do you feel that your ex-spouse is a fairly reasonable person, but that his or her relatives are horrible? Perhaps you're concerned that your former in-laws will have a negative effect on your child and you'd like a child custody order that bars your child from spending time with them. Think again. Unless your ex-in-laws pose a clear threat to the safety of your child, you might not have any say in the matter.

Grandparents: When it comes to grandparents, they might have a legitimate, independent right to spend time with your kids. Regardless of whether they're your parents or your ex's parents, they might be able to file a lawsuit to ensure they can spend a small amount of time with your child.

Aunts, uncles and other family members: If your ex feels that his or her brothers and sisters should spend time with your child, then they'll probably be able to do so. The same goes for other extended family.

The only way that you'll succeed in barring an extended family member from spending time with your children is to gain your ex's support or be able to show the court that this person poses a threat or danger to your child. Perhaps, for example, the individual has a history of domestic or sexual violence. This evidence could be used to include a provision in the child custody order that prevents the person from being around your child.

Parents must take care when seeking to prevent their children from being around in-laws. They should have a viable reason under the law before pursuing such a limitation. Otherwise, a request without a lawful basis could work against the parent in the end.

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Ryan Campbell, PA
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