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What Happens if a Parenting Plan Is Violated?

Sharing custody and parenting time with an ex-spouse or partner is a situation rife with potential disagreements and problems. Even those with the most detailed parenting plans can find themselves in expected situation when the other parent stops cooperating, or circumstances change that make the current plan unworkable. The point of a parenting plan is to ensure the child has an opportunity to maintain a real relationship with both parents, and for the parents, that each is guaranteed a certain amount of time with his/her child. By and large, the terms of these arrangements are followed, and no extreme issues come up to interfere with their execution. However, there are parents who fail to adhere to the court-approved parenting plans, some even going so far as to kidnap their child to keep him/her away from the other parent. A new app developed by a Tampa father could provide an additional layer of protection for children who split time between two parents. In response to the long wait times to pick up his children from school, the father wrote an app that streamlines the dismissal process by sequencing cars and allowing parents to update the school on who will pick their child on a given day. Having the ability to notify school officials about who is retrieving a child on a minute-by-minute basis could prevent someone from taking the child illegally. In the event a parenting plan violation occurs, courts retain the authority to enforce parenting plans.

Parent Response to Violation

Outside of withholding visitation, a violation of a parenting plan could include traveling without notice or barring the other parent from having input over child care decisions. Any violation of the parenting plan/time-sharing schedule is almost sure to upset the parent that was wronged, but it is important to keep in mind that Florida law prohibits parents from retaliating for these violations. Specifically, if a party fails to pay court-ordered alimony and/or child support, the other party cannot withhold parenting time in order to compel payment. Further, if a parent refuses to comply with the time-sharing schedule, the other parent is not permitted to stop paying child support or alimony.

Court Enforcement Options

If the court determines a parent violated a parenting plan without cause, it can choose any of the following measures to remedy the situation:

  • give the non-offending parent extra parenting time, to occur at his/her convenience and at the expense of the offending parent;
  • order the offending parent to pay the costs and attorney fees incurred by the non-offending while attempting to enforce compliance with the parenting plan;
  • order the offending parent to attend a judicially-approved parenting course;
  • require the offending parent to perform community service, unless the welfare of the child would be compromised;
  • order the offending parent to pay a greater share of travel costs necessary for parenting time when the child and non-offending parent live more than 60 miles apart; or
  • modify the terms of the parenting plan, if requested by the non-offending parent, as long as it is in the best interests of the child.

In addition to the penalties noted above, a judge can also hold the offending parent in contempt of court, which brings potential jail time, or impose other remedies, such as requiring the offending parent to post a bond with the court to compel compliance.

Consult a Family Law Attorney

If you are dealing with an ex-spouse that refuses to follow the parenting plan approved by the court, it is important to contact an attorney about enforcing your rights. These violations need to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently so the offending parent does not become emboldened to commit bigger violations, like taking the child somewhere beyond the reach of American courts. The Fort Lauderdale office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. understands the sensitive and important nature of these matters and will work to protect your rights and the interests of your child. Contact the office for a free consultation.

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