Enforcing a custody Agreement in Florida You have a parenting plan that spells out what overnights the child is going to spend with you and what overnights your child is going to spend with the other parent. The judge reviewed and ratified the plan and made it a court order. There shouldn’t be any problems, right? After all, the judge has spoken by signing the order. It’s as clear as day, and we all know that if you violate an order from a judge you can get into trouble. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes we have to continuously deal with a parent who refuses to adhere to the custody agreement and violates the judge’s order. This article deals with what we do to enforce a custody agreement. How do we get the other parent to comply with the agreement so that exchanges and timesharing can go off without a hitch?
Goals When Enforcing a Custody AgreementBefore we discuss the specifics of how we actually go about enforcing your custody order, let’s take a moment to make sure we know exactly what our objectives are. For most people, the objectives are:
- To get the other spouse to comply with the agreement in the short term and in the long run.
- To get make-up timesharing if appropriate.
- To get the other spouse to understand that not following the rules has consequences and is not a good idea.
Filing MotionsWith these goals in mind, let’s go over a typical course of action to enforce a custody agreement and to get compliance from the other parent.
- Filing a motion for enforcement of the agreement and a motion asking the court to hold the other party in contempt of court.
Enforcing the Agreement: What the Statute Allows You as a RemedyThe statute provides certain remedies when the other parent fails to honor the timesharing schedule without “proper cause.” Following are things that you may ask the judge and that the judge has the authority to order for you at the hearing. These include:
- An order that the parent who did not provide or did not exercise timesharing to pay the non-offending parent’s court costs and attorney’s fees for the enforcement proceeding (discussed above).
- Order the offending parent to attend a parenting class.
- Order the offending parent to perform community service if so doing will not interfere with the child’s welfare.
- Order the offending parent to bear the financial burden of timesharing if the non-offending parent and child live more than 60 miles away from the offending parent.
- On the request of the non-offending parent, modify the parenting plan if so doing is in the child’s best interest.
- Impose any other reasonable sanctions.
- Order that the offending parent be held in contempt of court. Contempt of court penalties can include costly fines and even incarceration!
- Order that reasonable make-up timesharing be granted to the non-offending parent.