Know the Laws: Florida
UPDATED May 27, 2016
Please consider getting help from a lawyer in your area before proceeding with court action. To find a legal services organization in your area, please go to the FL Finding a Lawyer page.
No, you cannot refuse to honor the other parent's visitation (time-sharing) rights because s/he failed to pay the child support that the court ordered. If you refuse to honor the time sharing in the order, the court can order extra time to the other parent to make up for the lost visitation time. In addition, the court could punish you in the following ways:
* Fla. Stat. § 61.13(4)
If the other parent violates your court-ordered rights in your parenting plan, you may file a petition to enforce your existing court order and ask the court to punish the parent for the violation. The court may punish the parent by ordering one of the other remedies listed in the prior question.*
* Fla. Stat. § 61.13(4)
Yes. In a custody (parenting plan) proceeding (including a modification proceeding), if the judge believes there is substantial evidence of a risk that one party may violate the parenting plan and time-sharing schedule by removing the child from the state or country, the judge can order that the parent in question:
There are many factors that the judge will consider in determining whether any of the above-listed security measures are necessary and additional documents that the accused parent may have to provide to the court.** You can find the actual language of the law on our FL Statutes page. Note: There is an exception for domestic violence victims. If you are a victim, and the other parent asks the judge to order these measures against you, you might be exempt (excused) from some of them if you can prove you are a victim (through a current injunction for protection against domestic violence, for example).*** Please seek the advice of a lawyer regarding this matter. If you need assistance in finding a lawyer, go to our FL Finding a Lawyer page.
* Fla. Stat. § 61.45(1)
** Fla. Stat. § 61.45(2)-(4)
*** Fla. Stat. § 61.45(7)
Because custody (parenting plan) is decided in the best interests of the child, an order is not usually permanent. If you have a custody (parenting plan) order already in place, you may petition the court to make changes to it (modify it). However, to change a custody order, you generally need to prove that there has been a "substantial change in circumstances" since the original custody determination and that it is the child's best interests to change the parenting plan. Furthermore, the substantial change must a material (important) change and something that was not reasonably envisioned at the time of the original custody order.*
If a court in Florida issued the child custody order (parenting plan) that you want to change, you may file the modification petition in the circuit court in the county in which either parent and the child reside or the circuit court in which the original order was issued.** A request for a change in a custody order (parenting plan) can be very complicated. If you want to change a custody order (parenting plan), we recommend that you seek the advice of a lawyer. If you need help in finding a lawyer, you can find one on our FL Finding a Lawyer page.
To find the location of the circuit courts in FL, go to our FL Courthouse Locations page.
* Wade v. Hirschman, 903 So.2d 928 (2005)
** F.S.A. § 61.13(2)(d)
Under Florida law, a parent who wants to relocate with his/her child has to follow specific steps. “Relocation” means a change in location of your primary residence that is at least 50 miles away, and for at least 60 consecutive days -- this could be within the state of Florida or in another state. (Note: this does not include a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.)*
To petition the court for permission to relocate, the steps to follow are below. (However, if the other parent will agree to the relocation in writing, you may not need to go through these steps. See, instead, I want to relocate with my child and the other parent agrees. What do I do?)
First, the law requires that you go to court and file a “Petition to Relocate with a Child” and serve it upon the other parent, and every other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child. You should also keep an original copy for yourself. This “Petition to Relocate with a Child” must include:
If the other parent or anyone else entitled to access or time-sharing files a response objecting to the petition to relocate, the judge will hold a hearing or trial where you will have to convince the judge that it is in the child’s best interests to relocate and you will have to get permission from the court before you can relocate. If the other parent does NOT file a response objecting to the petition to relocate, you will still have to get an order from the judge but the judge will generally enter an order that reflects the changes you proposed in the petition. This will be done without a court hearing.**
Note: For information on how to properly prepare and serve this Petition to Relocate, or how to properly serve an objection to the other parent’s petition to relocate, please contact the courthouse in your county and/or talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody matters in Florida. If you need assistance in finding a lawyer, you can find free and paid lawyers on our FL Finding a Lawyer page. Also, if you are a victim of domestic violence, the organizations listed on our FL State and Local Programs page may be able to refer you to a lawyer or another organization that will be able to assist you.
* Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(1)(e)
** Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(3)(a)
*** Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(3)(e)
If the other parent agrees to the relocation, you can draw up a written, signed agreement with the other parent (and with anyone who has access to or a time-sharing schedule for the child) that:
WomensLaw.org would like to thank Aliette Hernandez Carolan, Esq. for her help in reviewing this information.