06 Apr Help! My Co-Parent Won’t Follow our Time-Sharing Agreement!
A time-sharing schedule is a common element to a joint custody agreement. Unfortunately, many parents find themselves in a situation where the other co-parent doesn’t honor the set schedule. This can be extremely frustrating to the co-parent who wants to accept the plan and see his/her children. It can also negatively impact the child or children who likely does not understand why they are unable to see the other parent. It’s very important to rectify any issues with thetime-sharing agreement early to halt their negative impact on the lives of the children involved and the other co-parent.
Take it to Court
If a co-parent is not honoring the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan, the court will need to become involved. If one of the co-parents, without cause, refuses to allow the other co-parent visitation during his/her scheduled time, the court has several options to rectify the situation. As with any court proceedings, it is the best interest of the co-parent to seek legal advice from a family law attorney. The assistance of an attorney can ensure that the appropriate actions are taken in order to obtain the time that was legally granted as part of the parenting plan.
One great part offamily law in the State of Florida is the ability of the court to award makeup time. The court has the ability to calculate the total time inappropriately denied to the co-parent, and then grant the parent this amount of time plus some in compensation for the time missed. Furthermore, the court will require that this time be awarded expediently, as long as it does not abnormally intrude on the life of the child. The court wants to ensure that the time-sharing agreement is upheld and that any deficits are made up for. However, ensuring that the children’s best interests are kept in mind is also of utmost importance. The court will award make-up time to the non-offending parent only in such a way that it does not disrupt the child’s natural schedule.
Not following the time-sharing agreement can cost the non-compliant parent financially. The parent who does not abide by the time-sharing schedule may be ordered to pay the court costs and attorney fees of the non-offending parent. Depending on the length of the court hearings, these costs can work out to be a substantial amount of money.
Joint parenting and time-sharing have been found to be the most effective method of parenting children of divorce. This is why this custody arrangement is favored. A parent who denies their child’s access to the other co-parent may not fully understand the importance of the involvement of both parents. As such, the offending parent may be ordered by the court to enroll in court-approved parenting classes.
A time-sharing agreement, once accepted by the family court, has the force of a court order and is upheld as such. With that being said, the court may impose other legal repercussions on the individual not honoring the order. The court has the ability to order the offending parent to community service for not honoring the time-sharing schedule. However, the community service may not interfere with the child’s well-being.
If a co-parent refuses visitation due to distance, in spite of the time-sharing agreement, the court may take action. In the case of long distance time-sharing, greater than 60 miles, the court may order the offending parent to take financial responsibility for transporting the frequent, continued contact with the non-offending parent and the child.
Modification to the Parenting Plan
Sometimes the original parenting plan is ineffective for the situation, but parents don’t realize this until they are required to uphold it. The court may make a modification to the parenting plan in response to a request from the non-offending parent. However, any change to the parenting plan must be in the best interests of the child and requires approval from the court.
Obtain Legal Advice
When a parent refuses to honor the time-sharing agreement in a parenting plan, one of the first steps is to seek legal advice. Custody agreements and parenting plans are complex legal documents and prior to initiating any legal recourse; a discussion should be had with a family law attorney. A skilled family law attorney can inform you of your options (many of them listed above) and can support you in your decision to take the situation before a judge. Time with your children is precious, they don’t stay young forever. If you feel that your rights are being compromised, and your time-sharing plan is not being upheld, seek legal advice today.