What to Do When the Other Parent Refuses to Cooperate
Divorced parents do not have the option of breaking off all contact with each other if there is any type of shared custody or visitation schedule in place. To share time and responsibility for a child requires some degree of cooperation, and the hope is both parents will put the child’s best interests as the priority when points of conflict arise. Unfortunately, not all parents are able to effectively cooperate over issues related to their child, and some even take steps to block the other parent from seeing or communicating with the child. Parents who find themselves in this contentious situation may wonder what they can do to make sure their right to have a role in their child’s life is enforced. A Palm Beach County father has spent years fighting in court for visitation with his daughter after the mother allegedly took repeated steps to keep them apart, including moving out of state for a time and preventing any contact between them. This situation is far from optimal for the child, and represents circumstances courts hope to avoid. Parents dealing with an uncooperative former spouse can ask a court to take action to ensure the custody and visitation arrangements established in the divorce decree are enforced.
Risk of Violation – Concealment and Abduction
When a parent starts to push back on following the terms of a parenting plan, the other parent typically fears the child will be moved far away or intentionally concealed to block further opportunities for contact. If there is evidence that a parent may take such action, the other parent can ask the court to impose restrictions in hopes of averting this outcome. Most of the restrictions the court can impose relate to travel, and specifically, on hindering the parent’s movement with the child. Some examples of these restrictions include:
- requiring notarized written permission from both parents before removing the child from the state;
- requiring the surrender of the child’s passport;
- prohibiting the parent from approaching the child outside of designated visitation times and locations;
- prohibiting the parent from removing the child from school or daycare;
- requiring the parent furnish the other parent with travel documents, an itinerary and contact information during a trip; and
- requiring the parent post a bond that may be forfeited in whole or in part if the child is removed from the state and/or country in violation of court order.
Denial of Parenting Time Generally
In the vast majority of child custody plans, one parent has primary responsibility for the child, with the other parent having physical custody a few nights of the week or month. In this arrangement, the primary caregiver has the ability to deny the other parent his/her designated parenting time or to generally make it difficult to see and communicate with the child. When this happens, the parent denied parenting time can petition the court to enforce the terms of the parenting, which can lead to the punishment of the other parent for his/her actions. If a parent denies parenting time without proper cause, and non-payment of child support and/or alimony does not qualify, the court may order any of the following:
- award extra parenting time, which is scheduled around the best interests of the child and earliest availability of the non-offending parent;
- order the non-compliant parent to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and court costs;
- order the non-compliant parent to complete community service;
- modify the parenting plan if requested by the non-offending parent, and if the modification is in the best interests of the child; or
- hold the non-compliant in contempt of court, which can result in jail time.
Get the Advice of a Family Law Attorney
Time with your child is precious, and should not be denied or limited by your former spouse or partner. If you have to constantly fight with an ex to see your child, it is time to speak with an attorney to get this situation under control. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A. knows how important a parent’s relationship is with his/her child, and will work to find the best possible solution for you and your child. Contact us for a free consultation.