In divorce cases involving children, the court is required to order a parenting plan that addresses time-sharing when minor children are involved, and the plan ordered will be based on the circumstances of the case. The parties can agree on a plan and the court can approve it, or the court can decide the whole parenting plan through a final judgment or court order. A parenting plan describes what each parent’s relationship will be with their children and how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child. In addition, the parenting plan will:
- Spell out time-sharing schedules that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent.
- Include specifics on who will be responsible for health care, school-related matters and other activities.
- Contain details concerning the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.
A time-sharing schedule that is part of a court-ordered parenting plan is a “law” for you, the other parent and your child. As such, it must be followed.
If you refuse to honor the timesharing schedule, your former spouse can file a motion for contempt and/or enforcement against you. In these circumstances, the court can order make-up timesharing, order you to pay attorneys’ fees, and enforce the court-ordered timesharing schedule. The court can order sanctions against you to compel your compliance with the order, possibly even fines and jail time.
If there are health or safety concerns that factor into your decision to keep your child from going to or back to the other parent, you must put your child’s welfare first. You should consult an attorney as soon as possible if these issues arise.
Until a time-sharing order is entered, married parents usually have “equal” right to the child.
As such, either can take the child and then refuse to return the child to the other. If your spouse has issues that call into question his or her ability to parent the children safely, you may need to think about supervised or safety-focused visitation. This provides that one parent will not have access to the children without being supervised by a third party or without strict guidelines in place on how that parent can interact with the children. Some examples of what may cause safety concerns with the offending parent are that he or she has a substance abuse problem or if he/she is physically abusive toward you or the children. In these types of cases, if there is no court-ordered or agreed upon timesharing plan in place, your attorney may file a motion for temporary relief on your behalf to seek relief from the court with regard to the appropriate timesharing schedule, pending a final resolution of your divorce case.
The importance of your parenting plan cannot be understated, as it addresses how you will relate with your child or children and the other parent.
Ensuring that you have a parenting plan that accurately reflects your child’s best interests is of paramount importance. Every circumstance is unique. For more information on parenting plans or questions about timesharing arrangements, please contact us to schedule a confidential consultation with the experienced family attorneys at our office in Naples, Florida.
The information provided on law and legal topics is designed for general information only and does not constitute nor should it be considered legal advice. It is not a substitute, nor should it be considered a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney knowledgeable about your specific factual situation.