When two parties get a divorce in Florida the court will enter a Judgment of Dissolution. If children are involved, a child custody and support order will be entered as well. The order will outline the legal rights and responsibilities of each parent and include language regarding time sharing division and the financial obligations of each parent. These orders are legally binding and both parties are required to follow them. But what happens when one of the parents fails to comply with the parties’ custody or support order?
Talk to the Other Parent
If your parenting time is being denied, try to talk to the other parent and figure out why they are not allowing your time. If only one visit has been missed, it may be as simple as the other parent forgetting about the visit. If the missed time is a recurring issue, there could be a misinterpretation of what the parenting schedule is. It is important that you try to talk to the other parent before rushing off to court. The problem may have an easy fix and a premature court filing could severely damage your relationship with your ex.
If you are having issues with child support, it also may be helpful to talk with the other parent. They may be having financial struggles that may temporarily affect their ability to pay. While knowing the reasons behind the lack of payment may not help resume payments, it can give you insight into whether this is a temporary, unavoidable issue or whether you need to seek remedies with the court. It is important to try to balance being civil and maintaining a healthy relationship with the other parent, with retaining yours and your child’s rights.
Follow the Judgment
If you are being denied parenting time, you still need to attempt to exercise your time. Show up for every visit and keep a log of any denied time. You should include the date, reason given (if any), and any witnesses to your denied time. It is important that you do not miss any visits and do not give up trying to exercise your time. After each attempted visit you should send an email to your ex, telling them that you tried to exercise your time and asking when you can expect makeup time. Be cordial and direct in these correspondences as you may need to use them as evidence in the event you end up in court.
If child support is not being paid, you as the obligee need to continue to follow your court judgment. Do not attempt to withhold parenting time as retaliation for support not being paid. Not only will this hurt the children, but it will also make you look bad to the court. Additionally, you could find yourself in contempt for not following the judgment.
Talk to an Attorney
It is always best if parents are able to handle disagreements outside of court. However, there may be times where the matter is not going to be resolved between the two of you. If you have tried to work things out with your ex and you are still having difficulty enforcing your judgment, it may be time to take legal action. The first thing you should do is contact your attorney. They may suggest mediation or find it’s best to go straight to court. If you and your attorney decide to forego mediation, you will begin by filing a Motion for Contempt/Enforcement with the court and asking for a hearing. At your hearing, you will be given the opportunity to prove that the other parent is not following the court order.
If the court finds that you have indeed been denied time, it may:
- Find the other parent in contempt and possibly impose fines to deter the other parent from continuing their behavior
- Award you makeup parenting time
- Modify parenting time or custody
- Award you attorney fees
If the court finds the paying parent to be behind on child support payments, they may:
- Garnish the wages of the paying parent
- Suspend the paying parent’s license
- Place a lien on the paying parent’s property
- Sentence the paying parent to jail time
- Award you attorney fees
If you find that you need to enforce your child custody or support order, the Law Offices of Ronald M. Zakarin can help. Contact us today to set up an appointment.