Legal Question in Family Law in Maryland

Separation/Divorce Matters

I am currently dating someone who is separated.I am very close with his son.My boyfriend has visitation of his son and now his wife is saying that I am not allowed to see their son at all when it is my boyfriend's weekend, nor is their son allowed to spend the night at my house or take any weekend trips with us.They have an agreement on child support and visitation that has been signed by a lawyer.Is this agreement legally binding since it has not been entered as an order by the courts?And does his wife have a say in what he does with his son during his scheduled visitation as long as it is not detrimental to the child's well being? Any help would be appreciated.

Asked on 9/08/03, 3:50 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Sher Wagshal and Sher

Re: Separation/Divorce Matters

The separation agreement is legally binding whether or not it is part of a divorce degree. It's a contract, just like any other. Unless the agreement specifically limits your boyfriend's visitation rights to contact only with him, or to where he spends the overnights, which I doubt is the case, the mother has no right to dictate the terms of visitation. Obviously, if you and the father were doing inappropriate things with or in the presence of the child, she might be able to protest that in court, but otherwise, it's none of her business.

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Answered on 9/08/03, 4:21 pm
Carolyn Press Chung & Press. P.C.

Re: Separation/Divorce Matters

The separation agreement is a contract. It is legally binding, as any contract is which is not the result of coercion, fraud, or impossibility. Violation of the terms of the agreement can't result in a finding of contempt of court, unless the agreement has been incorporated into a judgment of divorce, but evidence of breach of the agreement could be used in court by the wife as a basis for asking the court to alter the terms and place new limits on visitation at the time the court hears the case. But does the agreement state that no visitation will take place with you present or that the child can't spend a night at your home? If it does not, the wife is trying to rewrite the agreement unilaterally, adding new conditions. She has no right to do that. When the divorce case reaches the judge, she may be able to have the agreement thrown out if she can convincingly show that your presence has been harmful for the child, or that you have behaved in inappropriate ways or exposed the child to activities which are not in his best interest. If you have done nothing wrong that affects the child, on the other hand, her attempt to impose new visitation terms or to interfere with agreed-upon visitation could work against her in court. I would advise you to be careful and to avoid trying to be mother to the boy, or asking him to call you some form of name meaning mother, or saying anything negative about his mother, or making rules in his father's home which should be made by his father. Don't give her a good reason for objecting to your presence during visitation.

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Answered on 9/13/03, 3:40 pm

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