My Ex Is Not Following Our Parenting Plan
In many states, including Florida, whenever the court is needed to determine the outcome of a minor child where both parents will be involved in shared parenting a parenting plan is required. This is true for parents who have never married or even lived together as well as for parents who have married and are divorcing.A parenting plan will include the number of overnights for each parent and where the overnights will take place. All medical, educational, religious, and discipline decisions are to be made jointly so the parenting plan will lay out the way this should happen. For example, unless it is an emergency, doctor and dental visits must be agreed upon before the child is seen by a professional. Other examples would be a child’s school cannot be changed without the consent of both parents nor can a parent expect a child to attend a specific church without the consent of both parents.Even decisions such as where the child will be picked up and returned for parental overnights, what happens when a parent cannot take their overnight time who then gets the child, how will the child communicate with the “other “ parent such as phone times and whether face time is allowed, and who pays for what extras such as sports or ballet will be included. Medical, dental, and life insurance will also be determined as part of the parenting plan.
All of this is most helpful and especially beneficial for the child. But what happens when the “ex” decides to stop following the parenting plan which the judge has made part of the final judgment? Each state has their own set of guidelines for bringing the matter of noncompliance before the court. This blog will look at the state of Florida.
The legal process for bringing a parent to court for not following the parenting plan handed down with the final judgment is termed filing for a civil contempt of court ruling on the offending party.Contempt in the legal sense basically means a person refuses to obey the order, decree or mandate of a judge.The purpose of a civil contempt ruling is to encourage, and in a sense coerce, a party to, in the future, faithfully follow the parenting plan. A disciplinary action will be adjudicated to the party found in contempt as a consequence for not following their parenting plan. Fines, imprisonment in the local jail, and other sanctions are all options for a judge to choose from. Not following a parenting plan is considered a serious offense in the state of Florida as the plan was developed “in the best interest of the child,” Florida’s Family Court motto.
Gaining a contempt ruling on a parent failing to follow the court ordered parenting plan is not easy and, if not done correctly will result in the court denying the contempt.Whichever party has been affected by the breach in following the parenting plan is responsible for providing evidence the other party should be held in contempt.There must be firm evidence which can be testified to in court under oath or the evidence presented to the court where the judge can examine it. This evidence must include proof that the party facing contempt could have complied, in other words,had the ability to comply, but quite simply refused to do so. If payment of some sort, such as paying for extracurricular activities or day camp is cause for potential contempt, a “purge” provision must be created by the court allowing the party to do as was instructed in the parenting plan and thus purge themselves from contempt.
Using a Family Law attorney experienced in taking contempt cases for noncompliance of a parenting plan is essential for a party to be adequately represented in court. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, or Orange County in Florida or in New York or Washington DC, Family Law attorney Grant Gisondo has over 10 years of experience in helping clients needing to gain a contempt ruling for an ex-spouse who is not following their parenting plan. Attorney Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation so you can meet with him personally and learn what is necessary to obtain a contempt ruling. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and, for new clients, on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. To make an appointment,please call his office at (561) 530-4568.