First of all, let us say that we understand how frantic you must feel. It’s an urgent situation and your spouse is very likely violating your rights. You need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
During the separation period before a North Carolina divorce, neither spouse should make any major money moves or change the status quo regarding the children. Both parents should, ideally, be able to share their time with the children. If possible, you should be working toward an agreement on how to handle your divorce-related issues, which include:
- Who the children will live with and, if both parents, how that will be divided
- How much time each parent will spend with the children
- Who will have the right to make decisions about the children’s lives and upbringing
- Who will pay child support and how much
- How to divide your property and debts fairly
- Whether there will be alimony and, if so, how much
In general, married parents have legal rights regarding their children even without a child custody order. You may need to take legal steps to enforce those rights, however.
To be clear: neither parent has the authority to deny the other their time with the children. This is true even though there may not be any court order to enforce yet.
Nevertheless, some parents decide to unilaterally deny their ex their time with the kids. Sometimes, there are allegations of abuse or neglect. Some parents in that situation believe they are doing the right thing by taking their kids out of harm’s way. However, doing so without a court order allowing it is a violation of the other parent’s rights. It might even be considered parental kidnapping.
That’s why you need to talk to an attorney right away. How to proceed is going to depend on exactly what the circumstances are. A lawyer can listen to the facts and let you know what options you have.
Be sure to work with a compassionate attorney who will go the extra mile to get a fair outcome.