Know the Laws: Florida
UPDATED December 2, 2013
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 never 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)
Maybe. If there is nothing in the custody order (parenting plan) about relocation, you may need to petition the court to be able to relocate. You may be able to relocate if you are able to obtain a written agreement from other parent and all individuals with visitation rights (time-sharing). Please consult with a lawyer to determine what you need to do to be able to relocate out of state. If you need to petition the court to change the custody order (parenting plan) to provide for relocation, the judge will consider many factors in making his/her determination. The judge will consider whether the quality of your life and the child's will be improved, whether visitation rights (time-sharing) have been allowed and used, whether the cost of transportation for continuing visitation (time-sharing) is affordable, and, as in all custody (parenting plan) decisions, whether the move is in the best interests of the child.*
If you need assistance in finding a lawyer, you can find free and paid lawyers on our FL Finding a Lawyer page. Also, 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.
* F.S.A. § 61.13001
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 includes the following:
If there is nothing in the custody order (parenting plan) that allows you to relocate, and the other parent will not agree to sign an agreement to consent to the move, here are the steps you have to take.
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:
1. A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.
2. The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known.
3. The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.
4. The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
5. A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer which has been out into writing, that written job offer must be attached to the petition.
6. A proposal for the revised post-relocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the post-relocation transportation arrangements necessary for the time-sharing with the child to take place.
7. The following statement, in all capital letters and in the same size type, or larger, as the type-face in the rest of your petition: “A RESPONSE TO THE PETITION OBJECTING TO RELOCATION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING, FILED WITH THE COURT, AND SERVED ON THE PARENT OR OTHER PERSON SEEKING TO RELOCATE WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER SERVICE OF THIS PETITION TO RELOCATE. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO THE RELOCATION, THE RELOCATION WILL BE ALLOWED, UNLESS IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE AND WITHOUT A HEARING.”*
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 of Intent 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.
* Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(3)(a)
** Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(3)(e)