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Hi, I am doing research to see what remedies are available for a friend of mine who has been ordered by a county family court judge to restrict contact with my daughter in my final divorce order. My friend was not a party in my divorce, no charge was ever brought against her, she was never called to court for any hearing, and she was not even a witness in my divorce case. Also, she was not informed of the court order nor given any chance to defend herself. I believe her constitution rights have been violated by the judge. What can she do?

Lawyer's Assistant: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

Virginia

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?

Yes, my divorce lawyer, but he said there's nothing he can do

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

The contact restriction order is not a restraint order, because my friend is also my daughter's piano teacher, and she's allowed to continue teaching my daughter piano, just cannot have any contact with my daughter other than contact for piano lessons.

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Answered in 26 minutes by:
9/21/2017
Longhorn Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,231
Experience: Knowledgeable in all aspects related to family law matters.
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Thank you for your patience. Your answer is below. PLease keep in mind that my job is to give you accurate information, not just tell you what you want to hear. That means that although I promise to be honest with you, sometimes it results in an outcome that you may not want or expect. Unfortunately, with the law, it is not meant for everyone to win or to get what they want. There are winners and losers, and there is often a disappointment. Please do not hold that against me. I am just a messenger.

When you get your answers, you will be asked to give a rating - 4 or 5 stars are appreciated. This is important because this is how I credit for doing my job. Don't worry, you can still ask related follow-up questions even after you've given a rating. Thank you!

ANSWER: She does not have a constitutional right to contact with your daughter that is above what is in the best interests of the child. If the judge finds that contact other than piano lessons are not int he best interests of the child, he is permitted to restrict her contact.

Constitutional rights are complicated. If a person is threatened with confinement in jail or something like that, then there are more constitutional protections (i.e., there is a higher burden for taking someone's liberty). But the lower the risk of harm to the person who is subject to a court order, the lower the burden on the court to give notice, etc.

In all cases involving children, the decisions of the court are in the interests of the child, not the interests of the person who is subject to the order. The courts care far less about the piano teacher not having full contact with the child (and any notice related to that) than they do protect the child from whatever the court sees as a problem in the relationship.

So your lawyer is right; unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done. She does not have a familial relationship with the child and has no "rights" to visit with the child, like someone in the family might. But the judge did find that it is in the interest of the child to keep at least the professional relationship intact.

I'm really sorry. I know that is not what you wanted to hear, but my job is to be honest with you, not lie to you and tell you what you want to hear.

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Customer reply replied 9 months ago
Thank you for your answer. My friend has a very close personal relationship with my daughter. My daughter started studying piano with my friend since the age of 4, eight years ago. My ex-husband, who has been diagnosed with multiple personality disorders by a licensed clinical psychologist, accused my friend of alienating my daughter against him. The court admitted that it found no evidence of my friend saying anything negative about my ex to my daughter, yet the judge still made the ruling, saying because I failed to call my friend as a witness in my divorce case (I repeatedly asked my lawyer to call my friend as witness, and my friend volunteered too, but my lawyer refused),so the court has to believe what my ex accused my friend of. The ruling has a devastating effect on my daughter, she had to be sent to Children's Hospital ER due to suicidal thoughts after the ruling was disclosed by my ex to her early this year. Shortly after the divorce was over in Feb this year, my ex filed a $18M tort lawsuit against my friend, my another friend who hosted me and my daughter for a few months after we left home three years ago, my daughter's former child psychologist, and my former divorce lawyer for conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress etc. He also hacked into my emails accounts, followed me, spied on my friend's property, and sent tons of harrassing emails to me. He's a maniac! So there is nothing we can do? There is nothing under the law we can use to reverse a wrong ruling made a judge? My friend cannot appeal the ruling because she's not a party nor a defendant in the case. She was never served with the court order. I also cannot appeal the ruling because the order was issued against her, not me. Anywhere I can get help?

I truly understand that this is not ideal. And I wish it was not the case that you are dealing with someone who, by your account, seems unstable. Unfortunately, there is nothing that I know of that can be done to restore the relationship to pre-order status, prematurely; I wish there were.

Remember that I don't get credit for doing my job if you do not give me a positive rating. Kindly do so by going to the top of this page and clicking on 4 or 5 stars. Thank you!

Longhorn Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,231
Experience: Knowledgeable in all aspects related to family law matters.
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