Ask any child of divorced parents what would make them happy, and most will respond with having their parents together again. While it is fairly well known that children tend to do better in intact homes, this situation is not always tenable or in the child’s best interest if the parents are unable to maintain a healthy and functioning relationship. When a couple does decide to separate or divorce, and issues of child custody and parental responsibilities are addressed, most parents strive to make decisions that are best for their child. Unfortunately, though, not all parents are willing to discuss or compromise their positions on their children, and this unyielding attitude can easily lead to disputes. An extreme manifestation of this inflexibility is a parent who decides to ignore or directly violate a parenting plan in order to keep a child away from the other parent or legal guardian. A woman in Citrus County was recently arrested for interference with child custody when she forcefully took her children from the court-appointed guardian after being told she had no legal right to see them. Worrying about a parent kidnapping his/her child is a terrible scenario for the other parent, but the law does offer some protections to a parent fearing this possibility.
Parents at Risk of Violating Parenting Plan
The purpose of a parenting plan is to establish the responsibilities of each parent, and includes a time-sharing schedule that outlines how much time a child will spend with each parent. If a parent has legitimate evidence that another parent is likely to violate the parenting plan by removing a child from the state or concealing the child’s location, the parent can file a petition with the court asking it to block any possible attempts. The court has authority to prohibit the parent from taking certain actions that would facilitate travel with or concealment of the child. Some of the options a court has to inhibit a parent’s ability to violate the parenting plan include:
- requiring court permission or the consent of both parents to remove the child from the state or country;
- requiring the parent to surrender the child’s passport;
- imposing travel restrictions that insist on a parent providing a travel itinerary and contact information for the child before travel can commence;
- prohibiting a parent from removing the child from school or approaching the child outside of the designated site for visitation; and
- imposing limitations on visitation or requiring all visitation with the child be supervised until the risk of a parenting plan violation has subsided.
Bringing a Child Home
Once a child is taken to another state or country and contact with a parent is cut off, it is important to know what laws are in place to resolve this situation. Most states, Florida included, enacted a law that governs child custody disputes that cross state lines. The law, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, allows courts in different states to speak to one another in order to determine which court should decide the child custody case, and ultimately, where the child should live. This decision is based on the residency of the child, which is typically established by where child lived for the previous six months. Consequently, taking legal action as soon as possible is important to preventing a change of residency for the child. Motions related to child custody disputes are heard quickly to facilitate an efficient resolution of the matter for the sake of the child, especially when parental kidnapping is alleged.
The most important thing, when a threat such as this exists, is to get a court order outlining the rights of each parent. Without this legal backing, law enforcement will not have the authority to intervene if there is a kidnapping, leaving one parent with little recourse to get the child back.
Hire a Family Law Attorney
If you are fighting with an ex-spouse about parenting time or other child-related matters, and fear he/she will take action to keep the child away from you, you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Keeping the child in the state is imperative to protecting your rights, and the attorneys at the All Family Law Group, P.A. understand how important child custody issues are. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+