What to Do if a Co-Parent Isn’t Following the Parenting Plan in Florida

In the state of Florida, when a co-parent doesn’t follow the parenting plan, it can quickly disrupt a child custody agreement. Parents should attempt to handle any parenting plan violations outside of the courtroom.

However, if the situation cannot be resolved amicably, seeking legal counsel or legal action can be helpful.

The following items are considered violations of a parenting plan.

  • Defying the timesharing plan
  • Preventing visitations
  • Not returning the child on time
  • Parental alienation
  • Relocating the child
  • Refusing to support child care

Parenting plans are legal orders that both ex-parents must comply with.

Understanding the specific actions that violate a parenting plan under Florida laws is crucial, as these violations may result in serious consequences such as imprisonment and hefty fines.

Once any such violations are identified, documenting all parenting plan violations and taking appropriate steps to address them is crucial. 

Steps to Take If a Co-Parent Isn’t Following the Parenting Plan in Florida

Florida law recognizes a child’s right to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents after separation or divorce.

However, the State’s law recognizes the complexities that can arise, especially when a minor expresses resistance to visitation.

Document All Violations

It is important to document all parenting plan violations with proof, like emails, texts, or pictures.

Suppose a violation occurs due to physical relocation. For example, one parent travels with the children without informing the other parent.

In that case, it is important to note that significant changes in life, such as obtaining a new job, better healthcare, or any other substantial reasons, may be considered valid reasons for modifying the plan under the law.

Violating a parenting plan can potentially affect a parent’s ability to provide a stable environment for their child.

Attempt to Resolve Issues Outside of Court

If one parent is not following the parenting plan, both spouses may need to modify it. The spouses should try non-legal solutions first, like communication or mediation, to fix any conflicts.

When ex-spouses cannot agree, they may seek the help of family lawyers or child custody mediators.

Using a Lawyer to Resolve Parental Plan Issues

A spouse can hire a family law attorney if an ex-spouse is violating a parenting plan.

As legal professionals, family lawyers can help negotiate with ex-partners, draft letters, or initiate legal proceedings to enforce or modify the parenting plan after a divorce.

They can also encourage mediation among spouses.

Using a Child Custody Mediator to Resolve Parental Plan Issues

Ex-spouses can also seek help from a child custody mediator as an alternative to court to resolve disagreements or parenting plan violations.

A mediator facilitates discussions, promotes compromise, and helps co-partners to find mutually agreeable solutions. Ex-partners can then submit the agreement to the court for approval.

File a Motion for Contempt

For any parenting plan violations, one can file a Motion for Contempt to compel compliance with court orders.

When filing a Motion for Contempt, the judge and court need to determine three elements:

  • First, a valid court order exists
  • The violating ex-spouse is able to comply with the plan
  • The violating parent willfully did not comply with the parenting plan

Under Florida laws, the party being accused of violating the plan must properly inform the other parent before a hearing date can be set.

Seek a Modification of the Parenting Plan

If an ex-spouse has valid reasons for their parenting plan violations, they can petition the court to modify the current plan and avoid penalties and potential legal action.

Modifying parenting plans is only possible if strong evidence supports the request and the court approves.

Parents can consult an attorney with experience in parenting plan violations. They can discuss how to modify a parenting plan so that both parties can understand the legal process.

NOTE: Refer to this form to change the court-ordered parenting plan.

What Is Considered a Violation of a Parenting Plan According to Florida Law?

According to Florida child custody laws, a violation of a court-ordered parenting plan occurs when one of the parents fails to follow a mandatory action or takes an action not outlined in the plan.

Parenting plan violations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Refusing to adhere to the agreed-upon schedule
  • Denying visitation rights
  • Not returning the child on time
  • Parental alienation
  • Relocating without contact
  • Failure to pay child support

Consistently Defying Timeshare Agreements

A timesharing agreement outlines the schedule and arrangements for each parent’s designated time with their child, allowing ex-partners to share custody and visitation privileges.

Defying timeshare agreements leads to uneven contact between the child and either of their parents, which can lead to strained relationships later in life.

Preventing Other Parent Visitation as Outlined in a Parenting Plan

Visitation refers to the scheduled time for a non-custodial spouse to spend with their children, including regular visits, holidays, and other agreed arrangements for effective child care.

Following a divorce or separation, parenting plans filed under Florida courts must be complied with by ex-couples in an effective manner.

A non-compliant parent may face repercussions such as contempt of court, modification requests to the parenting plan, or having to attend community service.

Failing to Return Children As Agreed Upon in Parenting Plan

Not returning the children on time or keeping them beyond the agreed-upon schedule, even at the child’s request, both constitute parenting plan violations.

This can impact the work schedule for the custodian, disrupt the child’s academic routine, and cause stress. Under Florida law, both parents should agree to follow the parenting plan, including returning the children to the other parent.

Contact the custodial ex-spouse first and find a solution before seeking a legal amendment to the parenting plan if a child wants extra time with the other parent.

Attempting to Turn the Child Against the Other Parent

This is known as parental alienation and refers to a child who begins to display animosity against one of their parents, which is encouraged by the other parent.

Note that parental alienation can only apply if the parent who is alienated has not violated the parenting plan or taken any actions to justify the child’s negative feelings toward them.

Divorce or separation can create animosity between ex-spouses and children, leading to consequences like one or both ex-spouses turning their children against the other.

Relocating the Child Without Complying With the Plan

Courts evaluate the child’s best interests and circumstances when approving a parenting plan. A parent who travels with the child in a manner outside what is outlined in the parenting plan violates it.

This can also make child care more difficult for the remaining parent and subsequently impact the remaining parent’s relationship with the child.

Refusing to Provide Care for the Child As Outlined by the Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a blueprint for child support after a separation or divorce — detailing everything from visitation schedules to financial responsibilities.

This can also include responsibilities related to the child’s daily care, supervision, health, education, and other aspects specified in the parenting plan.

Non-compliant ex-spouses may face penalties, including paying the other party’s legal fees and court costs incurred by modifying or enforcing the parenting plan.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.