Most parents are able to put aside their differences and adhere to a parenting plan and child custody arrangements approved by a court. This civility benefits the child and allows parents to maintain contact in the long term with the aim of reducing the likelihood for conflict. However, not all parents are this cooperative.
There are situations in which parents have valid concerns motivating them to ignore the terms of a parenting plan, but there are also instances in which parents violate the parenting plan for personal reasons that usually relate to a desire to hurt their former spouse or partner. An alleged abduction by a mother in Miami recently triggered a statewide Amber Alert after the child was taken from a court-appointed guardian. The mother planned to take the child to Mexico, but was discovered with the child in Texas before she could cross the border. The mother also allegedly enlisted the help of other people to lead police in the wrong direction, giving her more time to get away.
Florida lawmakers realize how important it is that a parent can rely on the other one to follow the provisions in a parenting plan, and accordingly, granted courts the authority to penalize parents who decide to disrupt the prescribed parenting schedule. An outline of how courts deal with parents who violate or are likely to violate a parenting plan will be discussed below.
Permissible Court Action
The main concern with parents who violate parenting plans is that they will take the child to another state or country, effectively denying the other parent any time with the child. A parent, fearing this outcome, can submit evidence to a court that demonstrates an intention to remove or conceal the child, and if the court agrees that the evidence is strong enough to show such a risk, it can do any of the following:
- Prohibit the parent from traveling with the child outside the state without written consent of both parents or a court order;
- Prohibit the parent from traveling outside the country without written permission of both parent or a court order;
- Restrict the child from traveling with the parent to a country that has not ratified the Hague Convention treaty on international child abduction unless the other parent consents in writing;
- Require the child’s passport be surrendered to the court; or
- Require the parent to post a bond or security to financially deter him/her from taking the child outside the jurisdiction without permission.
If the court chooses to impose the travel restrictions mentioned above, it can also require parents to submit additional documentation to the other parent in the event that travel outside the area is authorized. This extra documentation includes:
- The child’s travel itinerary;
- A list of addresses and phone numbers where the child can be reached; and
- Copies of all travel documents.
The court can also prohibit the parent from taking the child from school or child care, and if the parent is subject to supervised visitation with his or her child, a prohibition on
contacting the child at any location other than the one designated for supervised visits.
Get Legal Advice
Facing a parent you believe intends to take your child away from you is a scary proposition, and one that should be dealt with quickly and firmly. If the parent is successfully able to leave with the child, it could be very difficult to get the child back. The Brevard County attorneys of the Henderson Legal Group understand the stress this situation causes and want to help you secure the safety of your child. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.