How Can I Legally See My Sisters?

I have two half-sisters. One I have not seen since I was five and I’m now nineteen. The other I see once to twice a year. My little brother and I want to be able to see our sisters whenever we can. Their mothers have a large amount of hatred for our dad, and wish for our sisters to never see him. He currently lives in another state and does not want to give full custody to their mothers, but he is not allowed visitation due to their mothers not allowing him the opportunity. One sister lives in my state and the other one might live in my state. I am not for sure since I have not had contact with her. How should I go about getting the right to see my sisters?

This is an issue that a family law attorney in the state where your half-sisters live would be able to give you the best advice because the answer can vary from state to state. Generally, any court visitation or custody decision must be made in the best interests of the child. Although this seems vague, courts will presume that it is in the best interest of the child to have a relationship with both parents, unless a party can prove to the court that a relationship or a particular part of that relationship (such as visitation) is not in the child’s best interest. For the most part, having a relationship with her siblings is also considered to be in the best interest of a child, but how much courts weigh this relationship against other factors and how this can affect a parenting plan or custody order can vary widely. Some states have laws that protect the rights of siblings to stay in contact with one another, while in other states, siblings need to argue for the right to visitation based on general rights of non-parent relatives.

If your father cannot secure visitation through a parenting plan, you may be able to petition the court for visitation on your own behalf. Because visitation is usually based on laws from the state in which the children reside, you should consult an attorney within their home state. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may find organizations that can help you for free or low-cost. You can also approach the court “pro se,” or without a lawyer. If you do this, you should research what you need to do to file your petition for visitation. Calling the courthouse where your siblings live is a good start.