Is it legal?


1.) I would like to retrieve a van that is in my name. We are currently separated and in the process of divorce. I did not take the van when I left, but I would like to gain access to the van. She does not use it and I have more of a need for it. Can I legally get a police officer to escort me there to have her give me the keys and retrieve my van. Again, the van is in my name and I have the title.

2.) A child support order was put in place that is based on joint custody because the STBX finally decided that I could see the girls 3 nights a week. The STBX is not happy about it because her decision to let me care for my kids those 3 days of the weeks has lowered the amount of child support she was granted. I heard her ask how could she get it modified. She was told that when the situation changed she could have the support order modified. I know her M.O. and I feel that she is going to keep the girls from me to say that I no longer care for them 3 nights a week. She will do this just to get more money. I do not want have my kids taken away from because of her selfishness. Should I be proactive and file for joint custody, or have a visitation agreement put into place?


If there is not a court order in place and the vehicle is marital property (title is not determinative) a police officer will not assist you in reclaiming the van. You may want to try simply asking that your wife return the keys so that you may have the van.

If that doesn’t work and you have a claim for equitable distribution pending you may schedule a hearing for what is called a Motion for Interim Distribution in order to get the van.

You should absolutely file for custody, the history of your visitation should aid in your ability to maintain the status quo.

  1. If there has not been an equitable distribution filed then I suggest that you do this. If there has been no ED filed, your spouse would need to agree to you claiming ownership of the vehicle. If she agrees to this and this does not leave her without transportation, then you could, I believe take the van. I don’t think you would need a police escort but it may be helpful not to go alone. Ask her if this can happen. If she does not agree to this then you should inform her that you will have no choice but to file for ED which will cost you both money to go to court over. Now, if the vehicle was yours prior to marriage and you never had it retitled, then it is yours and you have a legal right to it.

  2. (Little confused) If there has been a court order for joint custody and you have a schedule that is being followed, you have no reason to file for joint custody. Legally, she can not keep the children away from you regardless of whether or not you pay her child support at all, but especially if there’s already a court order in place. Document everything. Every night you get to have your children and conversations about child support. Having an agreement in place will help but if your spouse realizes that those three nights will decrease her child support and is already against this, she may not sign an agreement.
    If there has not been a court order and you decide to file, you would need to file for custody and could settle for joint custody. Before you file, I suggest that you explain to your stbx that it is best to agree to sign because you will not hesitate to file for custody. You will both spend thousands of dollars to go through mediation and court so that the judge can award what you are currently doing now and possibly more visitation. My husband and his ex have joint physical and legal custody with equal time. The boys spend an equal amount of time with us as they do with their mother and her boyfriend. Joint custody is normally a couple days a week and every other weekend so it’s possible that a judge could give you more time with your children than you currently have; but it’s not unheard of for one parent to have only one day a week and every other weekend, even with joint custody. If the spouse is being selfish and only wants primary custody because of the child support, attorneys normally can find a way to show that in court. She would have to show why the current arrangement you have, with the time she agreed to is no longer in the children’s best interest. If there’s no abuse or neglect that can be very difficult to do…


Update: The STBX did exactly what I though she would do… She agreed that I could pick up our children on Wednesdays and return them on Saturdays. Two weeks after the start of the visitation schedule we went to court for child support. The child support order was based on joint custody because of the schedule she agreed to. She is highly upset because she is receiving less child support than she would if she wouldnt have agreed to visitation. She was able to continue the child support case after she signed the order because she said she didnt agree to the order and the judge had not signed it. There has been a continuance scheduled for December 9th. After I dropped the kids off last night she called me and said that I would not be able to pick up the kids on Wednesday. When I asked why she couldnt give me an answer. I said, if not Wednesday then when. She stated she didnt know. This is her way of trying to keep the girls from me until the court date so she can say I didnt have visitation and she can get more money. I have an email from her stating that we could continue the visitation unless it has affected their schooling which it has not. My questions is… can I go pick my girls up from school on Wednesday as originally planned. Can she do anything such as call the police and report the kids kidnapped or anything that could hurt me?


If there is no custody order in place you may pick up your children as you have equal rights to time with them. There is nothing illegal about it, and the police will not interfere if there is no order in place. The situation you want to avoid is creating a situation where the children are placed in the middle and are being “snatched up” by either parent.
The best course of action is to request a temporary parenting arrangement to be set by the court, or schedule a temporary custody hearing.