What Can I Do If My Ex Will Not Stick to the Parenting Plan?
If you recently went through a divorce or a break-up and you have minor children from your relationship, you are likely now in the process of co-parenting. Under Florida law, parents must have a parenting plan—whether they are able to work together to create the parenting plan themselves based on the best interests of the child or the court creates the parenting plan based on the best interests of the child. Yet even when a parenting plan is in place and both parents understand that the time-sharing schedule in that plan is a court order that must be adhered to, situations arise in which one of the parents will not abide by the terms. If your ex will not stick to the terms of the parenting plan and is consistently disregarding the time-sharing schedule, what can you do?
You should discuss your situation with an Orlando child custody attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, however, we want to discuss some options for managing a difficult situation in which your ex will not stick to the parenting plan.
Relatively Minor Custody Violations
Some child custody order violations are relatively minor in the scheme of things, such as your ex routinely dropping off your child 15 or 20 minutes late, or routinely picking up the child 15 or 20 minutes late. Or, in some situations, one parent might occasionally have work issues arise that mean it is difficult or impossible to stick to the schedule. It is important to remember that even a seemingly minor violation like this, when it continues over time, can lead to more significant violations. If your ex believes she or he does not have to make any changes in order to abide by the time-sharing agreement exactly, you may be able to take less severe actions than asking the court to hold your ex in contempt, for example.
For instance, you may be able to work with your Orlando child custody lawyer to contact your ex, or your ex’s attorney, to make clear that further action will need to be taken if your ex cannot stick to the time-sharing arrangement in the parenting plan. Or, you may be able to engage in communication with your ex through family mediation.
When Your Ex Refuses to Stick to His or Her Days or Times with the Child
The above situations we discussed often are not intentional violations of the time-sharing schedule in the parenting plan. To be sure, most cases in which a parent is routinely late by 10 or 15 minutes is simply a problem with that parent’s own schedule-keeping. However, situations certainly arise in which a parent intentionally refuses to abide by the terms of the child custody order. For example, a parent might refuse to bring the child back to the other parent’s house on the appropriate day, or that parent might sign the child out of school early in order to avoid having the child spend time with the other parent. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as serious concerns about child abuse, it is likely time to ask the court to intervene.
If one parent is intentionally disregarding the child custody order and is refusing to stick to the time-sharing schedule, the court may be able to take various actions to force that parent to comply. For example, that parent could be held in contempt until he or she sticks to the schedule. And in some cases, the non-violating parent could be eligible to ask the court to modify the parenting plan and child custody order to reduce the other parent’s time with the child.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Orlando
Do you have questions about child custody and time-sharing in Florida? Our Orlando child custody attorneys & timesharing lawyers can help. Contact Anderson & Ferrin today.