Sometimes the easy part of a child custody case is establishing a Florida parenting plan and the difficult part is making sure it is followed. When a parent refuses to follow the court-ordered time-sharing or visitation in place, this can frustrate the rights of the other parent. Florida law provides some remedies and punishments designed to deter such behavior.
First, it is important to remember that time-sharing and child support do not rely on each other, meaning a parent whose time-sharing is being withheld by the other parent cannot refuse to pay child support. Similarly, a parent who is not receiving child support cannot refuse to allow time-sharing because the other parent is not paying.
So when a parent comes to the court and says, "My ex is not letting me see my kids", a Miami child custody court:
1. Shall, after calculating the amount of time-sharing improperly denied, award the parent denied time a sufficient amount of extra time-sharing to compensate for the time-sharing missed, and such time-sharing shall be ordered as expeditiously as possible in a manner consistent with the best interests of the child and scheduled in a manner that is convenient for the parent deprived of time-sharing. In ordering any makeup time-sharing, the court shall schedule such time-sharing in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the child or children and that is convenient for the nonoffending parent and at the expense of the noncompliant parent.
2. May order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing under the time-sharing schedule to pay reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the nonoffending parent to enforce the time-sharing schedule.
3. May order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing under the time-sharing schedule to attend a parenting course approved by the judicial circuit.
4. May order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing under the time-sharing schedule to do community service if the order will not interfere with the welfare of the child.
5. May order the parent who did not provide time-sharing or did not properly exercise time-sharing under the time-sharing schedule to have the financial burden of promoting frequent and continuing contact when that parent and child reside further than 60 miles from the other parent.
6. May, upon the request of the parent who did not violate the time-sharing schedule, modify the parenting plan if modification is in the best interests of the child.
7. May impose any other reasonable sanction as a result of noncompliance.
Because continued denial of time-sharing will most likely negatively affect the parent-child relationship, it is important that the parent whose rights are being affected acts quickly to bring the violations to the attention of the court. If a parent needs to continually file motions for contempt for missed time-sharing, the court can take this into consideration in modifying the time-sharing schedule, perhaps granting one parent majority time-sharing or custody over the offending parent.
Being proactive about protecting your rights under a parenting plan may start with a consultation with a Miami child custody lawyer. Through a consultation, the lawyer can advise if your situation qualifies for a motion for contempt, and if so, what remedies are available to you under Florida child custody laws.