Co-Parent Not Using Visitation Time: Options for Resolution
If you and your ex-spouse/co-parent already have a final custody order in place, including parenting plan details for drop-off/pick-ups of shared children, all your problems are over, right? Just because an agreement has been filed with a court and a final order has been issued, doesn’t mean both parties will adhere to it. What do you do if your co-parent is not using the visitation they have been allotted? What if they are habitually late or blow off drop-off and pick-ups, or decide they will pick and choose when they want to see their kids? This situation is not uncommon, but it does need to be rectified. If you are experiencing communication issues, obstinate behavior, or simply can’t pin down your ex to see his or her children, you do have options.
Making Alternate Arrangements
Before you take serious action, determine if you can work with your ex-spouse to see if missed visits are a logistical issue. Do the times allotted conflict with work or doctor’s appointments? Did your ex-spouse lose their job and can no longer afford to keep a vehicle or transport the children between school and each residence? Is your ex-spouse involved in a new domestic relationship, or did he or she move out of state without notifying you? Seeking a new romantic relationship is not an excuse for missing scheduled visitation or split custody. And, co-parents cannot move out of state without notifying the other parent, gaining approval and notifying the family court. This is because long distance custody orders can be difficult to enforce or carry out. The distance is cumbersome for both parties and the children and can make it logistically impossible to share physical custody.
Modifying Custody, Visitation & Support Orders
If your ex-spouse and co-parent refuses to communicate with you, continues to be absentee for visitation and custody drop-offs, is no longer communicating with your child, or is failing to pay child support without request for a modification, you can request an emergency custody or support modification hearing with a family law judge. You can also file a motion for contempt against the other party for failing to adhere to terms of the custody order, parenting agreement or divorce judgment delineating split custody or visitation schedules. You do not have to tolerate actions from a co-parent who cooperates one week and is missing in action the next. Inconsistent scheduling and presence in a child’s life can wreak havoc and is simply unfair. The court may order the other party to attend supervised visitation at an agreed upon location, compel the other party to pay child support arrears, or adjust 50/50 child custody to primary physical custody for you. Modifying custody would also likely modify current child support calculations for both parties.
Let Us Help You Today
If you or a loved one are divorced and share children, you understand the challenges that come with co-parenting. Even with an existing parenting plan agreement and a court order, some parties refuse to adhere to the terms of the agreement. If your ex-spouse is no longer taking visitation with shared children, picks and chooses when they decide to see their children or refuses to pay child support, you can file for contempt in court. Your children deserve a constant parental presence in their lives. If their other parent refuses to compromise and does not prioritize time spent with their kids, then the court order should reflect that. Contact our Tampa child custody attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. today for a free consultation to discuss your options.