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The background (United States):

  1. Wife took four children and left husband due to abuse
  2. After a very contentious separation, husband was awarded partial custody (every other weekend, one evening a week)
  3. Husband was ordered to pay child support
  4. Because it was very difficult for the parents to come to agreement, and because of the history of abuse from the husband, the details of child exchange were determined by court order. The children have to be exchanged at the same (public) location in all cases, at the pre-determined days/times without exception.
  5. The now-ex-husband is frequently behind on child support
  6. Ex-husband was recently given 30 days by the state to get caught up on child support or have his drivers license and registration suspended.
  7. There is a good chance that ex-husband will not get caught up in time.

Main Question: if the child exchange time and locations are fixed, and the husband can no longer legally drive, does this effectively nullify his visitation rights? (presuming he insists on picking up the children himself in his own car with a suspended license/registration)

The drop off location is near her house, not his, and even if public transportation were an option he would not be the type to use it. He's more the type that would ignore the suspension of his license and go pick up the kids in his car anyway. He is also the kind to try to attempt to manipulate the wife into doing what he wants regardless of what a court order says. Emotional abuse and manipulation were a big part of his game, but fortunately she has gotten much better at ignoring it.

Follow up questions:

  1. If he has his license revoked and attempts to pick up the children as always, are there any potential legal repercussions for her if she allows him to pick up the kids?
  2. Would there be any potential legal repercussions for her if she refuses to allow him to pick up the children himself with a suspended license/registration?
  3. If he attempts to convince her to drop the kids off somewhere else (presumably at his house) due to the suspension of his license, are there any potential legal repercussions for her if she refuses?
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if the child exchange time and locations are fixed, and the husband can no longer legally drive, does this effectively nullify his visitation rights?

No. He can get a ride from someone or get an Uber or Lyft or Taxi or take a bus.

The drop off location is near her house, not his, and even if public transportation were an option he would not be the type to use it. He's more the type that would ignore the suspension of his license and go pick up the kids in his car anyway. He is also the kind to try to attempt to manipulate the wife into doing what he wants regardless of what a court order says. Emotional abuse and manipulation were a big part of his game, but fortunately she has gotten much better at ignoring it.

What he is inclined to do and why have nothing to do with whether or not it is legal.

If he has his license revoked and attempts to pick up the children as always, are there any potential legal repercussions for her if she allows him to pick up the kids?

Practically speaking, no, particularly in light of a court order to transfer custody. Theoretically, it is remotely possible, even though it is very unlikely. In theory, she could be held liable for negligent child neglect by allowing this to happen, particularly if the children were then harmed in an automobile accident. If he was visibly drunk or intoxicated at the time of the transfer, however, her risk of criminal liability would be considerable.

Would there be any potential legal repercussions for her if she refuses to allow him to pick up the children himself with a suspended license/registration?

Potentially, she could be held in contempt of court for refusing to follow a court order.

Her better course would be to call the police when he arrived to report that he is driving with suspended license, to not transfer the children and wait until they arrive (seeking cover inside a home and advising the 911 operator again if the situation starts to escalate into a potentially violent situation), and to explain to the police that he is also attempting to endanger the children by trying to drive with them on a suspended license.

There is a good chance that he would be arrested and that the police would leave her with the children. The police might, rather than arresting him, drive him home with the kids and tell him not to drive and cite him for driving with a suspended license.

Then, she should make an emergency motion to the court, regardless of how it is resolved by the police, seeking permission to formally give her a right to refuse to transfer if he arrives unaccompanied with a suspended license.

If he attempts to convince her to drop the kids off somewhere else (presumably at his house) due to the suspension of his license, are there any potential legal repercussions for her if she refuses?

Probably not. This time he's not following the court order, not her. It would still be advisable for her to file an emergency motion with the court explaining the situation.

  • Thanks! I think you answered my questions pretty well, but just to clarify: I'm aware that he has plenty of other options by which he would be legally able to pick up his children without issue (uber, bus, someone else driving, etc...). I've updated my question to clarify that I'm specifically concerned about the (likely in my opinion) possibility that he will attempt to pick up the children himself and expect his ex-wife to cooperate fully. You still covered that plenty well. – conman Aug 7 '18 at 2:18
  • If I can summarize your answer; the fact that his license is suspended does not mean that she should refuse to allow him to drive the children anywhere? Calling the police is an interesting thought, although her lawyer (and some others) often emphasized not calling the police unless it is an actual emergency. – conman Aug 7 '18 at 2:22
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    @conman "the fact that his license is suspended does not mean that she should refuse to allow him to drive the children anywhere?" No. It means that there are two conflicting legal obligations with no clear resolution. She could face potential legal punishment either way. Calling the police is the best way to resolve the situation. Driving without a license with her kids is child endangerment and is an actual emergency. He's trying to commit a crime against her children. – ohwilleke Aug 7 '18 at 2:25

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