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I'm very sorry to hear about the situation! I can only imagine how difficult that must be.
When two legal parents separate, they have equal and unlimited rights to children until such a time as a court orders otherwise. This means that neither parent can typically force the other parent to provide access to children for visitation
without a court order. However, if a parent wants to visit with children or to establish clearly defined custodial rights, the parent can petition the court for custody/visitation rights and the court can then make a determination regarding those issues. Such a petition is filed at the Clerk of Court's Office. The court will then evaluate the details of the situation to determine, considering every fact relevant to the best interests of the child, what arrangement serves the needs of the child. Upon making such a determination, the court will enter an order according to the child's best interests. As a general rule, unless a parent is absolutely unfit, the parent will generally be entitled to receive some degree of visitation with a child. It's well-established that, absent special circumstances, a child's best interests are served by regular contact with both parents.
It's possible to represent one's self in such matters, but it's much better to retain an attorney, as few people are able to adequately represent themselves due to the complexity of the law and legal procedures. While it's not possible for me to provide direct referrals in this forum, I can provide you with some great resources that you can use to locate an attorney. It's important to remember that each attorney sets his/her own prices and each attorney decides which clients to accept and which clients not to accept, meaning that an individual may have to look around a little bit to locate an attorney.
Lawyers.com and Martindale are great resources. Both of these sites permit you to search for an attorney based on the attorney's field(s) of practice and geographic region. Further, the sites often provide additional information, including links to participating attorneys' websites and, in some cases, reviews of the attorneys. This information can help you to evaluate your potential selections.
Local Legal Clinics are often available for individuals who cannot afford to retain counsel on their own. These clinics provide free/discount services to those in need.
Local Lawyer Referral Services are also helpful, as they can direct you to attorneys in your region based on practice area.
Local Legal Clinics: http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/directory.html
Local Lawyer Referral Services: http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/lris/directory
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