One of the most frustrating things for a parent can be when the other parent does not comply with the parameters for timesharing established by the court. When that happens, the parent who has lost time with the child has certain legal options. It is important to understand what the law can and cannot do for you in these situations, and what you must establish to achieve a favorable outcome. One recent example of this was a case from Volusia County in which the 5th District Court of Appeal threw out a trial court order that modified timesharing in the father’s favor after the mother repeatedly failed to meet her obligations under the original timesharing order.
Originally, T.K. (father) and K.C. (mother) mutually worked out a timesharing arrangement regarding their child as part of a paternity action. However, 10 months later, T.K., a member of the military stationed in southern California, was back in court asking that K.C. be held in contempt. The mother, on three different occasions, improperly blocked the father from exercising his timesharing, according to T.K. The trial court held a short evidentiary hearing and concluded that the mother was in contempt for multiple violations of the parenting plan. The trial court awarded the father his attorney’s fees and court costs, and it also altered the parenting plan. Under the modified plan, each parent had the child 50% of the time, rotating in three-month intervals.
The mother appealed this decision and won. The reasons the change to the parenting plan could not survive were both procedural and factual. In the settlement agreement to the original paternity action, the parties agreed that all “substantial” changes to the parenting plan must be requested through the filing of a supplemental petition for modification. When the father made his allegations that the mother was non-compliant with the parenting plan and asked for changes to timesharing, he did not file a supplemental petition for modification.
Without a formal modification petition, the law considered the mother to have lacked proper notice that a change to the parenting plan could happen at the conclusion of the contempt hearing. Without notice that a modification was a possibility, the mother lacked an adequate opportunity to put together a legal defense against the possibility of having her timesharing reduced. Modifying the parenting plan without giving the mother notice and a proper opportunity to mount a defense against a timesharing modification was a violation of her rights.
In addition to not submitting the correct type of court petition, the father’s case lacked some essential types of proof. The father offered no evidence that a “substantial change of circumstances” had occurred since the entry of the original order establishing the parenting plan. He also needed to prove that the change he asked for would be in the child’s best interest, but his case presented no evidence of that either.
Dealing with your child’s other parent can be difficult when that parent refuses to abide by the parenting plan approved by the court. To ensure that your relationship with your child is not impeded by a non-compliant parent, you need strong legal counsel on your side. Contact the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys can help you make sure that you get the time with your child to which you are entitled.
Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
Obtaining Emergency Relief in Your Florida Timesharing Case, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, May 20, 2015
3d DCA Rules Change of Notice Period Was Not a ‘Modification’ of Timesharing Agreement in Miami Heat Star’s Child Custody Case, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 25, 2015