New Child Custody Laws in Florida – 2015


*  March 22nd, 2015 – an add on to the Florida senate version of alimony reform bill creates a 50/50 starting point for all child custody decisions.  Because this provision is not contained in the companion bill, it carries little change of surviving the legislative session.  We will keep you posted.

After some significant changes to Florida child custody laws a number of years ago, there has been a drop off in legislative success regarding child custody. We have assembled a quick overview on proposed laws during the last decade, and the resulting success or lack of success.

This page will be updated each monty to bring you the latest news of new Florida custody laws.


* At this point nothing new in Florida child custody legislation will happen until the beginning of the 2015 legislative season.

 

2014 – died in legislature

SB 750 – Rights of Grandparents and Great-grandparents

 

This bill was an attempt to expand the custody and visitation rights of grandparents and great-grandparents in Florida. The Florids Supreme Court struck down previous laws giving grandparents some rights. This law was the latest attempt to reinstate the rights of extended family.

 

2014 – died in legislature

HB 789 – Rights Of Grandparents And Great-Grandparents

 

Another bill that attempted to establish grandparent visitation rights. The problem with many of these types of laws is that they directly affect established constitutional rights of parents.

 

2013 – died in legislature

CS/HB 19 – Grandparent Visitation Rights

 

One of a multi-year effort to grant visitation rights with children to grandparents on both sides of the family.

 

 

2013 – vetoed by Governor Scott

CS/CS/HB 231 – Family Law

 

This landmark legislation was and still is known as the alimony reform bill. A less controversial component, but relatively unknown, was a provision that required judges to begin their thinking with equal parenting time. This one provision would have changed the face of child custody law in Florida. Unfortunately the alimony provision received all the attention and caused the demise of the proposed law.

 

2013 – died in legislature

SB 1466 – Shared Parenting

 

The first attempt in Florida to create a law that steered judges to grant equal parenting time to both parents.

 

2008 – died in legislature

HB 1315 –Child Custody and Visitation

 

This proposed child custody law created a “presumption” that contact with any parent guilty of domestic violence was detrimental to a child. This law, if successful, would have created tremendous amounts of litigation over child custody, and domestic violence issues.

 

2008 – Child Custody – signed by Governor

 

Landmark Florida custody law that completely remolded the concepts custody attorneys work with every day. The law called for elimination of the Primary Residential and Secondary Residential titles. It also eliminated the term “visitation”. The 2008 new custody law required courts to approve a comprehensive parenting plan, consisting of over a dozen pages of detailed plans for parenting children. Finally, the law eliminated any presumptions that parenting time should be a given pattern. Many people mistakenly thought that change created a requirement that judges grant rotating custody in all cases.

 

2008 – signed into law by Governor

SB 2532 Relating to Child Custody and Support

 

This law started a larger trend – to equalize rights of both parents in child custody cases. This law changed the main title of the divorce and custody statutes to include the phrase: “Time-Sharing” and eliminated the word “Custody”. That new law also expanded protections for military members involved in a child custody case.

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  • Michelle

    I am looking for opinions. My ex husband and myself disagree on the interpretation of our time sharing schedule that is court ordered. This is what it states; When the parents are using an alternating weekend plan and the holiday schedule would result in one parent having the child(ren) for three weekends in a row, the parents will exchange the following weekend, so that each has two weekends in a row before the regular alternating weekend pattern resumes.
    Can somebody elaborate on this for me?

    • HowardIken

      Sorry for being blunt, but it means what it says. The concern is that if you have weeks 1 and 3, and a holiday schedule would give you week 2, the result would be three weeks in a row. Your language would change that to give you weeks 1 and 2. Week 3 and 4 would go to the other parent. Then the normal schedule would resume.

  • Barbara

    if a parent that is time sharing there child breaks the court order and keeps the child from the other parent, what can or would the court do about that parent?

    • HowardIken

      Sorry for the delay. You would file a Motion for Contempt and call the judges office to schedule a 30 minute hearing

  • lovingfriend#1

    After the divorce is finalized, can the parent with primary custody take the child out of state to visit family? Also, when one parent has been out of work, lying repeatedly about non existent interviews, doing drugs (and likely dealing them) plus pawning or selling everything in sight to get cash for several years of the marriage, in addition to punching walls, smashing furniture and creating a fearful environment when cash wasn’t readily available can custody/visitation be hampered? If most bills have been late or unpaid and eviction process has taken place, can this affect a parent’s rights? I hope so. Parental influence on a child should be nothing but good for the sake of the child’s future.

    • HowardIken

      Yes, kids can always be taken on trips to visit family. The rest of this is very concerning. You may want to file for an injunction.

  • Cami

    Goodnight Mr. Howardlken, my 12 yr old son has had shared custody with his dad and I. With me being the primary custodial parent. My son now wants to have the choice of when to go to his dad’s house and how long he has to stay. What is the best process? He is in fear of his dad knowing that he feels this way and is in fear of his dad’s reaction…. Please advise. Thank you so much for helping all of us. God bless and favor you.

    • HowardIken

      Right this moment the law does not support a 12 yo making a decision not to see a parent. So the only thing to do is to discuss the situation between the three of you.

  • Cami

    I thought there was a law stating; if the child is of component age & sound mind, able to make sound judgement. They were allowed to speak to the judge themselves ….

    • HowardIken

      There is a law that sounds like that. But it does not allow a 12yo to completely make a decision. And most judges will not speak directly to children.

  • Cami

    What is the name and legal description of that law please and thank you

  • and68

    I have temp majority custody of my two daughters, 15, 17. Mom was the one that walked out on us, she has anger and control issues, my girls DO NOT want to go to mom or spend time with her for visitation (one evening a week and everyother weekend), at the moment I ask my girls to driver over to moms for visitation but they only stay a few min’s before coming home, this has been going on for 6 months now, the final divorce hearing is 5 weeks away, but in the temp hearing the judge would not allow my girls to testify in court about mom’s behavior towards them . Of course my soon to be EX is saying all things, I’ve brain washed them, etc. A couple of questions, what can happen to my girls if they finally tell me they will not go to mom’s ? Can the Ex only state her opinion and lies with out the girls testifying mom’s erratic behavior when they have visited her ? We live in FL.

  • Perez

    My final hearing for my divorce is in 2 weeks. My soon to be ex husband is trying to get sole custody of our son but hasn’t paid child support or seen him in 14 months. Does that count as child abandonment, and if so is there something I can file for that?

    • HowardIken

      I doubt that can happen from your description of the facts.

  • jmac

    Is there a legal age a child can make their own decision whom they want to live with in Florida? I heard 16 is that correct?

    • HowardIken

      I child never has the final say so

  • CourtOrderSchool

    In my parenting plan – it states that if my ex were to move from the residence in which the children are zoned, then my address will be used for school designation purposes. My ex did move and she ignored the parenting plan and then withdrew the children into her new school district. I have now been awarded a court order that the original parenting plan must be filed. My question: do public schools follow parenting plans and court orders, or do they look at something different to determine residence? I expect my ex will be looking for a loop hole and I am trying to cover my bases. I reside in Florida, thank you

    • mstone

      http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/1b-stats.pdf

      Statute 1003.29 – Page 67
      I think this answers your needs, Howard?

    • HowardIken

      Yes, the info mstone referenced is correct. The answer is that schools do follow court orders – when they are clear and unambiguous. Some schools will dig into a parenting order to follow it. Others may need a followup order. In the end you will get your way. The only variable is how much effort it will take to get your way.

      • CourtOrderSchool

        Thank you Howard. I have been listening to some rhetoric that they (Pupil assignment) follow majority vs. minority time sharing (we are 60/40), and nothing else (including court orders). Not sure if you ever heard of anything like that? I appreciate the fast reply and renewed confidence that I am headed in the right direction.

    • CourtOrderSchool

      Thank you Howard. I have been listening to some rhetoric that they (Pupil assignment) follow majority vs. minority time sharing (we are 60/40), and nothing else (including court orders). Not sure if you ever heard of anything like that? I appreciate the fast reply and renewed confidence that I am headed in the right direction.

  • janeOdonel

    Howard, a follow up comment to the posting below. Once this person withdraws the child from the school and then enrolls he/she in the new school, what prevents the former spouse from just doing this all over again?

    • HowardIken

      Good question. A proper court order will be observed by all schools. As I said below, there are sometimes problems if the order or parenting plan is not clear. Those are the situations where we have to go back for a short hearing. Recently, I even had to hold a hearing and get an order telling the school NOT to interpret court orders – the exact opposite of this situation. So you really never know until you see how the school reacts. But ultimately everything can be fixed with an additional court order.

  • MarcentGr

    If my “x” violates a parenting plan, then ignores a judge order for enforcement of the parenting plan, what is next?

    • HowardIken

      Motion for Contempt. Thirty minute hearing. All under the same case number and same judge.

  • stutt

    Ex was sworn in over phone due to living in different state. Proposed child sharing plan was not agreed to by judge. Judge changed parenting plan to say exhibit 2, wrote what she felt was in best interest of children and initialed the change. Ex is now picking and choosing from original proposed plan stating that’s what he agreed to. Can he do that??

    • HowardIken

      It sounds like the judge entered an order on that parenting plan. No, he cannot pick and choose.

      • stutt

        Thank you. One more question. Holidays were orally agreed to and ex got every other holiday. This year is his Christmas and I have to meet him in SC. Ex is now going to proposed parenting plan which judge didn’t agree with stating he gets the entire winter break. If ex keeps children for 2 weeks instead of 1 week I physically cant be in SC on the date he says he is dropping them off. Ive tried talking to him but he says hes keeping them and now I don’t know what to do. This was orally agreed to by him and judge but not in writing. Can he choose to pick what the original proposed plan was which stated entire winter break?

        • HowardIken

          Prior oral agreements do not count.

  • firemedic226

    I work a 24 hour shift the days I am off I have my daughter. She is with me my first day and night and the following day until 530. This works out to be 50/50. The state only recognizes overnights. Is there a provision or statue that accommodates an abnormal schedule?

    • HowardIken

      Yes, there are exceptions. But those exceptions are not clearly defined in statute. An attorney must argue for a certain interpretation of the law. We offer free consultations in all of our office locations.

  • Shari Wolson

    I have a client, I am a tax preparer/tax consultant, we have a tricky situation I cannot seem to fine the information I need to help her. Situation: There is a Separation Agreement. There is “Family Support” but is not broken down for “Spousal Support” and “Child Support”. Also, the non-custodial parent seems to get to claim the three children. The wife received $ 42,818 ($1992 every two weeks) , for March 1 – December 31, 2013.The wife had the three children, homeschooled them. She did not realize she needed to file a Form 8332 to give the exemptions to noncustodial father. She has not signed the form yet. This Separation Agreement will cause her to owe $4478.

    This is not fair that she has to pay the price for a detail like this, can anything be done? We live in Florida.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    • HowardIken

      Unallocated family support is always a potential problem. There are definite situations where “unallocated” can help. But this does not appear to be one of them. This would probably have to go back to court. It is possible a relatively simple Motion for Clarification will remedy the situation.

      • Shari Wolson

        Her husband is pushing hard for her to file either jointly or her to file MFS. In which case she loses. I asked her to get the Motion of Clarification. She is confused, scared and vulnerable. I told her I would file the extension so that we have time to get this straightened out. I feel for her. Is there anything else I can tell her to reassure her that the it will work out? I

        Another question – Is there a set amount in Florida for child support per child? Since there are three children, is there a calculation I can use that can give me an idea of what the separation of the support might look like. This may give her a bit of reassurance. My sister gets about $325 per month for her son, not sure that is appropriate, should be more. But is that a reasonable amount. What is child support actually suppose to cover each month?

        Thank you for your assistance. This is a great idea to help others. I might take this idea for my website. I really want to help others. This is amazingly helpful. Thanks.

        Shari Wolson
        The Tax Lady

  • John

    I have a parenting plan that currently gives me 90 days out of the year for time sharing. Recently the mother wanted a “break” because she told me she could not handle our child and gave me two months of custody where she was actually paying me support. The mother is Bi-Polar and has been sent to a mental hospital twice, once after the child was born. My lawyer told me it would be impossible to get that information into the court so nothing was ever done and I lost my relocation case. During this time, she found out she had cancer and has extended the “break”. Is there a time that if this child was to stay in my custody that the court would change the residency of the child to my state (I moved away from the childs’ home state) ? The child is 3.5 years old. Also, if a third party like a grandmother ends up taking care of the child more than the mother is that grounds for a change in custody/home state change?

    • HowardIken

      Sounds like you already have grounds for a change in custody. Jurisdiction would remain in Florida as long as either parent still lives there. The mental hospital info – I disagree. It is difficult but a judge can enter an order allowing discovery of the information. You just have to convince the judge in a hearing.

      • john

        Thanks for the quick response. Are you saying that because she handed him over for a “break” that is grounds for custody, or the mental hospital stuff? What about the third party watching the child. If it’s more than one or two times a week all the time, is that grounds for an unfit mother too?

        • HowardIken

          Not any one thing by itself. But it sounds to me like it all adds up to sufficient grounds. Of course that is always a two sided argument.

  • Christina

    I have a parenting plan in place with my childs father,it is in the court order that no one ouside of myself him and our parents can pick my daughter up from school.He recently went to the school and added a person ,i have know idea who this person is,to her pick up list.He also consistently ignores my calls when he has our daughter,and i only call once to see how her day was ,in the order it stipulates whomever is exercising timesharing must allow the child to communicate with the other parent.What steps can i take to change or get the court to do something about his total disregard of the parenting plan ?

    • HowardIken

      You must file a Motion for Contempt and schedule a court hearing. Everything will be under your original case number.

  • David del Sol

    I have an issue with my ex wife we where communicating fine until she decided to tell me that our daughter got grounded when I had her for the weekend asked what she was doin let her know she was on my iPad told she wasn’t supposed to b on it when I took her home she got angry at me and when I told her that what happens at her house is her business not mine I haven’t seen my daughter for 5 weeks she says that my daughter according to her lawyer needs a room of her own can u please help thanks

    • HowardIken

      A reading of your final judgement and parenting plan is required. You may have to go back to court in an enforcement hearing to address this issue.

  • jane

    My kids father hasn’t seen them in 5 years. My husband is stationed in Japan and im having the hardest time getting him to write a letter of approval to alllow my sons to join my husband. I have sole custody of my kids not court ordered but by Florida law I was told I have sole custody. My kid father barely makes child support sometimes I receive as little as $40 every month. Im afraid to go to court for full custody but why do I have to ask someone who does so little and never visits my kids nor call for approval to relocate kids me and my husband have raised? Please help.

    • HowardIken

      Unfortunately his legal status as the father gives many powerful rights. Thats just the way it is.

  • lana

    You are great at answering everyones questions and concerns! I hope you can help me….my sons father once laid his hands on me. I always had to make him come see our child. Our child is now 17 months. after a family gathering for our sons baptism in October 2013…his family (mom and dad) decided to serve me with papers the day BEFORE CHRISTMAS for time share. I have photos from when his dad laid his hands on me, but the issue is that I never filed a police report. I am afraid of our child being over there over nights with him….I do need a lawyer A GOOD One bc i just found out as well that both of our lawyers are friends! he dad has to be on antidepressants and does not take them….he has a hot temper. I’m just so scared for our son…I mean maybe it’s the attachment…but i’m just aftraid of my sons safety there. what should i do….and the days he’s suppose to ave our child (temporary) for now…he doesn’t…I have him. he has excuses all the time. Wednesdays are strip clubs. Thursdays his new girlfriend and Friday….i didn’t get an excuse.. overnight starts soon…but honestly I rather go to trial than to have the THIRD MEDIATION! He’s only fighting for over nights so that his childsupport lowers.

    • HowardIken

      What question can I answer?

  • Keisha

    How do I chang to sole custody from joint custody after divorce has been finalized?

    • HowardIken

      Not a simple answer. I would need to read the final order. But in general those types of changes are very difficult.

  • keri

    My stepfather (the only father in my life for the last 20+ years), passed away this week. We live in Florida but my stepdad will be buried in Michigan. My son’s father is refusing to make a timesharing change with me to allow us time to travel to Michigan to attend the burial and memorial events. He had drawn up at schedule where I would trade him the time he was going to be missing (4 days) and he would be given 9 days in exchange. Now, he has backed out of the trade because he is upset with me about other issues.

    Can I ask the court to allow the change? How do I do that? How long might it take. The funeral is in 2 weeks and we would have to make work, travel plans, etc.

    • HowardIken

      We could file an emergency motion. Short of that, it may be best to cater to him.

  • jess

    Hello Sir,

    My ex husband hasnt had a job since septermber last year. I know he is working UNDER THE TABLE. Because he is working in construction. He filed petion in 2012 to modify child support. Due to finances I have had 2 lawyers and recently started my case with state attorneys office. In between the transfer of the case from private practice to state attorney office, I failed to received court date and to attend a court date. i was not aware of. My ex was the one to notifiy me of failure to appear. What do I do? How can the state attorney help me now since this court was tried in family courts. And now he is starting child visitaiton modifation papers. any input.

    • HowardIken

      Because of the lack of information it is difficult to give an answer. Usually it is not fatal to miss one hearing. But you cannot know the effect until you thoroughly read the court documents and orders.

  • http://batman-news.com Dwight Rodriguez

    my ex has send my 7yr old n 5 yr old to tx with out my approval or concent i also came to find out reson of the trip is for them to be givend to my sister becouse the mother thinks she cant handle them no more she has try to kill her self fail. but my thing is that she refuse to let me see them sence oct. 2013 i still got there santa gives. as sad as it saunds.
    i really will like to know if i can go to texas and take them from my sister?

    • HowardIken

      You should be able to. But unfortunately, sometimes the police will want to see a child pickup order from a court.

  • bridget

    currently have shared parenting, alternating wks. ex has now signed a lease outside of school district and enrolled the children in new schools. she has a criminal case (dui) pending which may result in a short incarceration period (3-7 days), no license, no job, no vehicle. She said because her address is used for school designation, she has the right to move and use that address for new school. because it is under 50 miles she can relocate wherever she likes. the teens do not wish to change schools and want to remain with me full time. do i have a chance in this to have them during the school year full time or must i follow the ex whereever as long as its under 50 miles?

    • HowardIken

      I would disagree with your spouse. While the move does not violate the relocation statute, your spouse’s one-sided change of schools violates shared parenting principles. Plus the incarceration is obviously a concern. Part of this will depend on the language of your parenting plan / final judgment. You may be able to hold an emergency hearing depending on various factors.

      • bridget

        i have all the papers printed for modification of parenting plan, parental responsibility; but what would form(s) would i file to hold an emergency hearing (charlotte county 20th circuit)?

        • HowardIken

          Sorry but we can not specify specific forms.

  • Megan Miller

    I have a question pertaining to my situation. I will try to minimize it as best as possible.
    Myself (mother), my 18 month old daughter and her father, completed our drawn out process in court in January 2014 and all documents were submitted and signed off by the judge. My child’s father is supposed to take her every Wednesday am- Thursday am and every other weekend. With his job, he works overnights, However, during the process of court, he informed both my attorney and his that he requested to his employer and was approved for those specific days off (wed&every other weekend visiting schedule was also at his request). Since before we had completed our case in court, he has not been following the schedule, hardly ever. Even days that are not his and that he does not have to work,I often ask him if he would like to take her and spend time with her and he never does nor ever asks me, but, a lot of times when I do ask him he will say things such as “why are you always trying to pawn her off to me”. Recently, I’ve been thinking I should take him back to court. Especially since, the other evening in a text message he told me “I hope you die”. I am concerned about his mental well being and it’s causing concern in .even about when my child is with him. I don’t believe he would ever do anything to hurt her, but, I don’t know. Any suggestions? Am I in the right or wrong?

    • HowardIken

      You are in the right. He is supposed to step up the plate and be a good parent. He should also be following the parenting plan. There is a concept on parent plans called: “use it or lose it.” If he is not using his designated time, you should not be in the position of always being on standby. Child support may be based on a certain amount of his overnights and may change based on the reality. That together with the other stuff you mentioned provides adequate grounds to file for modification.

      • Megan Miller

        If I brought him back for a modification, wouldn’t it be a matter of “he said she said”? How would I even prove that he has not been sharing responsibility and following the schedule? I don’t have any proof except maybe some text messages.

        • HowardIken

          Text messages and possibly witnesses. It is different for every case.

  • CT

    My ex husband got orders (military) to move to Colorado for a year and is the custodial parent to our 11 and 17yr old boys. My 17 yr old is freaking out because he does not want to move out of state for his last yr of school. And I can not afford to buy a place ticket and hotel to see them in Colorado because I am paying child support. I have every other weekend visitation rights. He just told me today, he will be moving in 3 weeks and will be sending me a letter to sign to let the kids go, and if I dont he will take me to court. I am heart broken and I dont know how to stop him. Even if he does take my kids, I cant afford to see them.

    • HowardIken

      You may have an opportunity for a Motion to Restrict Relocation. It sounds like a poor decision to relocate a 17 yo in his last year of school.

  • GoodDad

    Hello. Last year, a long distance (she and children in Orlando, myself
    in Miami) parenting plan was done that we agreed to and signed. I
    represent myself pro se. Her lawyer told me he would take care of
    getting it filed and signed. The copy her lawyer sent me to approve
    left a very important element out (I believe he did it purposely)…that
    because she had denied me previous visitation, I would get the children
    the next two summers (2014-15) . He said no problem, he would fix it.
    Several emails to him went unanswered. Fast forward present day…I
    now live in Orlando. Ex has always been extremely difficult and
    whenever I don’t do everything she says, she keeps the kids from me. So
    I filed a motion to set mediation for a new parenting plan because of
    the substantial change (I now live in Orlando) and the judges assistant
    called to tell me that the last parenting plan was only filed and not
    signed by the judge and we couldn’t proceed until the other one is taken
    care of! Her lawyer simply told the court they are not ready to
    schedule mediation…a new parenting plan would not be in HER best
    interest cause that means I get a lot more time with the kids. How do I
    proceed? Would a Motion to Dismiss previous parenting plan be proper
    because it was not filed as agreed and there’s been a substantial change
    in circumstances? Any suggestions you could offer would be most
    appreciated. She will not comply unless she’s forced to. I have looked
    everywhere online to find a similar case, but no luck.

    • HowardIken

      I assume the case never proceeded to the end? Sounds like you need to push the case to trial. A quick observation based on your comments – you are in over your head on this one.

  • loving mom

    Im a mother of a 6yr old little girl. And im not married to her father we just live together. So my question is if he leaves the state with her. Is there anything I can do. Never been to court or anything like that. I work two jobs and he doesnt even have onr and hasnt for the last 7 years. What are my opinions. .. please help

    • HowardIken

      You need to file a paternity case to define the rights and obligations for both of you. All bets are off until you get that done.

  • william

    Since florida changed things to time sharing can a father recieve 50/50 out of wed lock?

    • HowardIken

      Definitely yes.

  • michael

    Greetings,
    I am writing concerning my current custody situation. My ex was allowed to leave by a Florida court with my then 1 year 11 month old 2 years ago. Since then, we have been in mediation and in court. I moved from the location where the case was originally filed approx two months later but still within Florida and continued to pursue a resolution. The magistrate allowed me to keep the case in Florida as the other parent would not show up to the mediations so it was transferred to the county that I currently reside. We were allowed to continue and the Magistrate in the current county maintained jurisdiction in Florida. The parenting plan was drafted but not settled earlier this month and now the other parent has obtained an attorney and is alleging that the child has separation issues backed by a psychologist. This is an attempt to modify the plan that was set by the Magistrate, as well as to contest jurisdiction. I was given three months of time in the summer with my three year old daughter and this would be the first time in almost two years since she’s been back to Florida. If there is a reason for the separation issues, it is because I was an instrumental and consistent part of our daughters life before they were allowed to move. I have visited our daughter twice since the relocation and we Skype consistently on Mon./Wed/Fri.. What recourse do I have to make sure that our daughter has ample access to both parents. The current time (Other Parent 280/ Myself 85). I am nervous.

    • HowardIken

      Sounds like you may need to retain an independent psychological expert – appointed by the court. I think the problem with the existing psychologist is a possible conflict of interest. A treating psychologist cannot be a testifying psychologist. There is case law that backs that up. Also, the APA ethics code suggests the two roles are in conflict.

  • Jacob

    I am a father trying to get custody of my son. I have a temporary custody hearing coming. I have heard that the judge will only grant me the minimum? Why? Can I get more than that?

    • HowardIken

      Who says that?? Not true. The decision depends on the facts of your case. You have rights that are equal with the mother’s rights in your request for parenting time.

  • Marie

    I have a 13 year old his dad is allowed through a court order to get him for the entire summer. He doesn’t want to attend these visits and doesn’t return home until a week before the next school year. This does not provide me with adequate time to prepare him for the next school year. What are my options?

  • joseph

    I will give the most detail as i can.
    I am about to have to go through the legal problems with my ex. over my 2year old daughter.
    only problem i can think when she was born. i wsa 24 and she was 17. I have supported her entire life. her mother hasn’t worked a day in her life and has no car. she is staying with her step mom. now and would have to share a room with the child. the child favors me more but just a little its clear to see. it use to make her mother upset. I want shared custody. and equal visition. due to the hours i work 5am-12pm ive heard that would make things a little harder. If i were to quit my job of three years to find a different one with different hours. would this be possible? ive also read they have done studies that a young girl growing up needs her father more than her mother? is this true? I just want to be more than a weekend visitor in my childs life. please if there are any more details you need let me know.
    thank you for your time.

    • HowardIken

      I think you want an answer that really requires a private consultation. I have not seen those studies but I am sure there is a study that supports every point of view. In the big picture – you certainly have a right to be more than a weekend visitor.

  • Michelle M Wilder

    At what age can a child have a say-so in their visitation? My SD is 15 and no longer whats to spend the whole summer and every 3 day weekend at her moms ( in another state). Thanks in Advance!

    • HowardIken

      Theoretically at that age. But in practice, the preference of a child can not reach a judge’s ears. And even if it does, the child cannot decide to cut out the parenting time of the other parent.

  • dads have no rights

    Hi, I have been divorced for 5 years, my ex got primary custody but of course that to her means that she owns the children. My kids were always so happy to come to my home, and were screaming and crying when I took them back to their mother. As time went on she made it more and more difficult for me to get the kids, even telling me to meet them at the park in her town but no one was there when I arrived. She had friend of the family ties with the previous judge who made the time sharing to be while the oldest child was in school, and then took $1300 a month in child support leaving me with barely enough to live on so the 50 mile round trip 20 times per month while the oldest was in school was in school was so far from impossible. But I did all I could, and always got the kids when they weren’t in school…I had HAVE had NO money to get another lawyer until Feb this year, she has not allowed me to see the kids in almost 3 years, now she is ignoring the court summons and I have been told I can ask for visitation enforcement but not primary custody. The kids now refuse to speak to me, and they used to BEG me to as the oldest would say “call a judge and say i can live with you”..heart breaking since fathers have no rights in the eyes of the court outside of supplying a home and clothes and food for the EX. Now I am being told that if she still refuses visitation all i can do is keep scraping for money to re hire a lawyer and repeat this process. My lawyer says I can’t even ask for primary custody, I have to just live with the Ex’s alienation of my children from me! I have remarried and my now wife has sold everything she owned to pay for this lawyer, she helped me navigate repairing my credit after the Ex destroyed it, and because of my now wife’s sacrifices we were able to buy a PERMANENT home, a 4 bedroom mobile home because the kids have been living all together in ONE bed room since the ex took off. She has moved in with 2 boyfriends and the back into the one bed room trailer with the kids again several times….why do I still have no rights when I am clearly the parent who is in the best interest of the children? The Ex chose to break up our family so she could be with her boyfriend, then the court allowed her to move to another county taking 2 of the 3 kids from the only home they had ever known…..Is there no hope? I love my kids, I have NEVER had any rights or say since the ex decided to take them away, I have court again Friday for “enforcement” but I know she will not show and she will ignore the order….my kids are better off with me, what is wrong with this system? My lawyer says I can’t ask for primary custody and the judge will not be hearing from me, only my lawyer, what can I do??? I now have a home with a room for each kid, I have been at my job for over 8 years, my kids LOVED my wife before their mother started denying the visitation and brainwashed them against us, and my wife loves the kids like they were her own. We have been upstanding citizens and devote everything to giving the best life we can to the children…..the Ex has not accomplished anything in 5 years, she still has the kids in the one bedroom trailer when they aren’t living with a current boyfriend. She makes the kids call me by my first name, she makes them call her boyfriends “dad”, she called them when they were with me and had them crying and saying that it makes mom made when they say they want to see dad??? What can I do? I have been destroyed and now my kids are being destroyed too…and she’s getting away with this??

    • HowardIken

      Obviously there is a lot going on here. I am sorry the system has treated you so harshly. It is difficult to understand what is going on. Normally it is a huge mistake not to appear in an enforcement hearing. In most courts the judge would suspend her parenting time. Sorry, there is not enough here for me to properly comment.

  • MarkS

    Hi there, I have been divorce for more then 7 years, my self and my ex had a daughter together 2008, since 2010 my ex has not let me see my daughter, talk to her and not have any form of contact with my daughter. Although i moved from the USA back to the UK in 2009, the Florida State Family Law, Specifically states that neither part shall conceil the whether abouts to each other of their child/s, or deny form of contact from either parent, even when one parent is out of the country.

    Surely this means that my ex wife is in breech of the law and can be held in contemp? What can i do about this?

    • MarkS

      Idealy you would go through the court from which the case was filed with, to inform the courts of your moving. However, if not then yes your ex can take you to court for this.

      Did you file with the court of your moving? If not i think that can be seen as incontempt of the state law. Even if you had told your ex husband about the move to which he originally was ok with.

    • HowardIken

      You have not violated the relocation statute – so you are definitely not in contempt of your court order. That applies to the child and the majority parent. You need to file a Motion for Contempt in the court where you got your original decree. Of course your exact rights are contained in the original order.

      • MarkS

        That would mean, my ex wife in FL is incontemp of the FL State family law, yes?

        • HowardIken

          Sounds like she may be

          • MarkS

            What do i do then? file a motion of contemp against my ex wife at the court that the child support was originally filed with.. ie Clay County in Greencove Springs? .. What would then happen to the ex wife once i filed the motion of contemp? would she be arrested for it? Also do you know what the cost is for filing the motion of contempt?

          • HowardIken

            These are questions best asked in a private consultation.

          • MarkS

            When is a good time to call?

          • HowardIken

            We are open during weekdays – business hours.

  • Cami R

    Hi. I have been divorced for almost 8 years. Four years ago I was without a job and my ex was not paying support. I was offered a fabulous job about 2 hours away, but out of the original “judicial circuit” My ex was fine with my move, he helped me move furniture, brought house warming gifts etc. I facilitate visitation whenever he wants to see the child and drive 1/2 way to meet. The child is thriving academically and socially, and is involved in many activities.
    Now, 4 years later my ex is threatening to take me to court for moving out of the judicial circuit. No change of venue was ever asked for or entered. Is it possible that the court would make me move back to a town with no job and no opportunity?

    • MarkS

      Idealy you would go through the court from which the case was filed with, to inform the courts of your moving. However, if not then yes your ex can take you to court for this.

      Did you file with the court of your moving? If not i think that can be seen as incontempt of the state law. Even if you had told your ex husband about the move to which he originally was ok with.

    • HowardIken

      I doubt that is a realistic possibility. You did technically violate the relocation statute. But the circumstances suggest his “implied consent” to your move.

  • Jennifer

    I live in florida and have equal custody of my three children. Am I allowed to go out of state on vacation with the children or do I need the other parents consent of it’s on my allowed time with the children?

    • HowardIken

      Normally if the vacation is contained within your allowed time – you are ok to travel. You should let the other parent know where you will be and some basic contact info. Have a good time !

  • worried in florida

    I need legal advice. My daughter left home, left her children with me, in which all of them has always lived with me including herself. I need to know if I can adopt kids if she signs them over to me. There is no dads signatures on any of the birth certificates. Ages are, 6 years, 2 1/2 years, 10 months.

    • HowardIken

      You can. But it is a formal, complex process that most likely will require an attorney.

      • worried in florida

        Will I have to involve the donors of the children?

        • HowardIken

          Not sure what that means.

  • No idea what to do

    I don’t agree with the time sharing plan at all. the magistrate says I have to ASK PERMISSION to move out of town with my daughter although my husband is in the military, the child’s father lives across the country and doesn’t even pay his child support! I find it so stupid for me to have to ask anything. The orders are all in Florida. I really think he only took me to court so that if anything goes wrong on my end of the time sharing plan he can try to get me into trouble maybe to make himself look good, as if it changes the fact that he doesn’t help at all with our daughter. I do not want any over nights in the time sharing plan because when he has her he just drops her off with his relatives, and I can keep my own child. But the stupid magistrate would not listen to me. I don’t know what to do because I feel as if I can do whatever I want to do with my child I’ve been raising alone all of these years and I never keep her from him, I just don’t want any over nights.

    • HowardIken

      If you violate a court order you run the risk of losing what rights you have.

      • No idea what to do

        true! is there any way possible to change a time sharing plan? especially with us being military and nobody on either side has lived in Florida for a while.. thank you so much for your feedback it is very much appreciated and needed! a burden is being lifted.

        • Been there

          I have been in the EXACT same situation. My ex hasn’t cared about seeing my daughter at all. But when I wanted to move because my husband is also in the military I had to “ask” permission. It has been over a year and a half since I was granted relocation and my ex has yet to even try to get my daughter for his visitation time. He wanted Christmas, Summer, and Spring break (keep in mind hes has never had her more than one night) and he has cancelled out on 2 summers, a spring break, and Christmas and hasn’t seen her since the day we relocated. I don’t feel he should have any rights anymore because he hasn’t even made hardly any attempts in calling her or seeing her. Not to mention he is a career criminal.

          • No idea what to do

            its a shame! I really want to get all of the orders transferred to the state I live in because I am here permanently and neither one of us live in Florida anymore. Florida doesn’t care about anything pertaining to the well being of a child until something horrible happens. it takes them months to even respond.

        • HowardIken

          You have an excellent chance of getting a modification.

  • Please help

    I am a mother of a 3 year old and 4 year old. I have never been married to their father. After both deliveries their father has left them and disappeared. Back in the past I had given their father 2 chances to be in their life but he didn’t want the responsibility. Now it has been 2 & 1/2 years and he hasn’t tried to see them, called or texted them, sent any toys, or even a card for the holidays. He is (13,000) behind in child support. Had a warrant out for him for contempt of court. He has moved from state to state without contacting me or the girls. His Passport suspended. Now after 2 & 1/2 years he decides to text me and tell me he turned himself in and now and have a good paying job. (I feel he has only contacted me because he face was put out as a deadbeat online). He even had the nerve to ask if I was receiving the child support (like he set it up at his job). A friend of mine found out what state he had moved to and told me he had a job and I reported it to the child support office and child support office starting taking the money that way. Now after all these years he is coming at me a 3rd time asking to co-parent. The other 2 times I gave him the chance he did good for a couple months and then disappeared on my children for years. At this point, my kids dont even know he exist. My question is can I stop him from having visitation with them if there hasn’t been a court order? Can I file child abandonment? I dont know what to do, all I know is, I dont want to see my kids hurt.

    • HowardIken

      I think you are within your rights to refuse visitation until he shows more information about “who he is” But eventually, if he persists, he will get some parenting time.

  • Kathryn Stillman

    My daughter has a 10 month old son and the father and her have 50/50 time sharing. My issue is that on Sunday July 6th, 2014 my daughter and 7 year old granddaughter both contracted food poisoning and was very sick until the next day. My grandsons father showed up with the police (Again) to pick up his son because my daughter was still too sick to drive to the place that the father has designated. Not what’s ordered in the court order. Because my daughter was sick, on Wednesday when my daughter went to the place for pic up of her son the father didn’t show up and has refused to give her the 10 month old back. It is now Saturday July 12th, 2014. She even went to his residence per her attorney to pick him up with the Police and the father refused to turn the baby over.
    What right does he have to keep the baby away from his mother because she was sick and was afraid to get behind the wheel of a car while still throwing up?

    • HowardIken

      If there is a court order then her rights are enforceable.

  • Katie Laz

    4 years ago my son’s father and I had a “time-sharing Agreement” written up after he filed for paternity. He has 3 other children by 2 other women. The agreement in place was very loosely written. In it it says that we have joint decision making and responsibility. It also says that I can relocate to another state. It says that any time not specified in the agreement that the child will be with me and the only time actually specified says that in the case that I relocate his father can have 2 weeks during the summer. I never relocated. Is that a “substantial change in circumstances.” His father has never called, sent a text or an e-mail, come by our house (which is the same one since my son’s birth), written a letter ect. requesting any sort of time sharing. In the original agreement his even agreed that is “I were unwilling or unable” to care for my son custody would go to my father then to my son’s father. My son’s father has never shown any interest in any of his children. He is over 60k behind in child support on his other 3 kids. The only involvement from that side of the family came from my son’s father’s mother. After she was both physically and verbally abusive to me in front of my son I stopped letting her be involved. A year later she and her son (my sons father) showed up at his school and took him without my knowledge. Anyway, after 4 year he is now filing to modify time sharing alleging that I have withheld the child. He has also called DCF of me and my current boyfriend several time alleging that I am on drugs and that there is domestic violence going on. They have several investigations and never found anything to substantiate their claims. I do not have a lawyer and the court case is in 3 weeks. They are requesting that my son’s primary residence be changed and that his father have full custody. Do I need to be concerned? What is the probability that they will award him custody? How do I best prepare for the trial without a lawyer? PLEASE HELP!!!

    • HowardIken

      These are really big questions. Too big for this space. When we prepare for trial, the effort can take hundreds of hours. Hundreds of hours cannot be boiled down to a couple of sentences. Sorry.

  • Over It

    Is there a law in Florida requiring personal space for a child that goes to a parent’s house every other weekend? My daughter goes with her dad (who lives with his parents and part time with his girlfriend) but when she is with him he either sleeps in the same room as her or has her sleep in the same room as him and his girlfriend. He says he is “working on it” but he left when she was 6 months old and she is now 4 and a half.

    • HowardIken

      That does not sound good for a child. But there is no law that exactly spells out requirements.

  • cleopatra11

    I am going pro-se on my divorce case. The only issue is time-sharing and child support amount for our 9 year old (Florida). We live about 15 minutes apart, in the same county, but not zoned for the same school. My husband wants equal time-sharing. This is coming from a man who is part of an internet terrorist group (I have evidence to present), who had an affair with a teenager (what ultimately led to our divorce, I also have evidence to present), and who I had to bring cops out to my house when I found a hidden video camera in my room after we split up (evidence is the police report but no arrest made). He’s not a horrible father but I don’t believe our daughter being with him 50% of the time is in her best interest. He has changed attorneys so many times that I couldn’t afford to keep paying mine so I ended up pro-se. Do you think the judge is likely to give him what he wants?

    • HowardIken

      That is a pretty big question for a ten second answer. I doubt custody would be awarded to a terrorist. But I also doubt you can prove he is a terrorist. No negativity intended – just my two cents.

  • Nervous

    My ex is trying to change the parenting plan to 50/50 time sharing when its already set for every other weekend and everything else is as both parties agreed for our 5 and 11 year old, I admitted I kept them from him for a couple weekends because my kids were scared of his new live in girlfriend and would get upset and cry and were scared to go there. But I have since asked him to start working with them and they go to his house when he is off on his scheduled weekends and even asked him to watch them when it was my time sharing, but have still convinced him to allow them to stay with me when he works (over night) during his time sharing and he can get them the following day at until the end of his scheduled time. Would judges change a schedule for the kids when any thing against the agreement was due to their emotional and metal state, or is something we have agreed on for two years since it doesn’t state where they would be if he works during his time sharing?

    • HowardIken

      You never know about parenting plan modification cases. It depends on which judge, the relative skills of the attorneys, and your budget for developing a case.

      • Jessica

        I am currently going threw the same situation, my self and my daughters father were never married and separated since I was 5 months pregnant. I filed for Childsupport when she was 1 and when he got served got a lawyer and proceeded to try to gain full custody of her so he did not have to pay Childsupport. My daughter is now 8, the court ruled when she was 2 every other weekend visitation, wed nights, and half summers along with Childsupport. She has been living with me full time since u am the custodial parent has been in the same school since kindergarten, does great in school, has her own room/ space at home. Her father informed me he filed for 50/50 time share bc he cannot afford child support anymore which he lives 35 miles away, and my daughter already hates going and gets completely anxious and very sad when I force her to go. I am completely against this for the well being of her mentally and emotionally. Let me ad he is remarried has 4 other children ages 4 and under that are completely out of control, and my daughter does not have a room at her dad’s house, as it was taking from her so her uncle which is a drug addict and in and out of jail ” which is on his record” is now living in which was her room, and she is sharing a 10’10 room with her 1 year old sister… I am completely repulsed. Not only that my daughters father is never involved, nor does care bc his always working. I ask me daughter how her time with her dad was over the weekend and she tells me she never sees him he is always working so her ” step mom” is caring for her verses her spending time with her dad. What are my chances of having his request for 50/50 denied.

        • HowardIken

          It depends if you conduct your case properly, if you have an attorney, etc. If you do everything right – it will be very difficult for him to modify the parenting plan.

  • Todd

    How is mileage determined between cities for a parenting plan, is it actual miles driven or air (radial) miles?

    • HowardIken

      Good question. I will let you know as soon as I find out. There is no definite answer. But If I had to take a position, I would say driven miles. Then again, it depends which interpretation benefits my client.

      • Todd

        Thanks Howard! I have a 280 mile guideline. Guidelines do not state how mileage is determined, driven or radial. If they go with driven I lose out seeing my son regularly by 30 miles, if they utilize radial then things will remain as they are. I was hoping that the courts utilized a consistent method for determining this, radial, even though it works for me in this situation, is a more accurate method rather than driven mileage. You can deviate on the miles driven, radial mileage doesn’t change, it is what it is. Favorable or not, I look forward to your findings…thank you!

  • Confused

    I have a final judgment but my son’s father, we were never married, is not honoring it. ( He will not let me see or talk to my son). I need to file a motion for contempt but do not have the resources for an attorney. My father funded my last attorney which cost him over $24,000 and he is not in a position to fund another one. Will I have any chance with the court if I file a motion for contempt on my own? I don’t know what else to do. Mediation is out of the question because the last three we went to, before the final judgment, he simply got up and walked out in the middle of all three of them. He say’s ” No judge will make me follow any agreement.” The police only say it’s a civil matter contact your attorney. What good is a final judgment if one side does what he wants with impunity?

    • HowardIken

      There is no reason you cannot file your own Motion for Contempt. A Court should enforce the final judgment.

      • chris1776

        “Should” and “will” are two different concepts with some of the judges in the state of Florida. Many are power-hungry, corrupt politicians who do not care about kids, just keeping their docket clear.

  • Frustrated

    Hello, My situation if very similar to the ‘confused’ woman below. Except that I have spent over 100K in legal fees and the funds are depleting quickly. This was all part of the co-parents game plan as I was told prior to filing for divorce from an abusive situation. This summer the parenting plan calls for one week on and one week off. However, we have a parenting coordinator who works with us and signs off on our monthly schedules due to travel make up time for my co-parent. My co-parent consistently believes he is not given his ‘fair’ time and will not follow the parenting plan or the schedule of the parenting coordinator. Recently, on the day of transfer he informed me he was keeping our children for the remainder of the summer and fled over 300miles (still within the US). I will spend have spent one day with my children during the month of July and August. He will return them three days prior to school. I reviewed the Florida statutes and this would appear to qualify as a kidnapping (interfering with other co-parents timeshare, domestic violence-withholding children, and s/s of parenting alienation is being observed with my son via his therapist). However, this was told to me not to be deemed an ‘emergency’ motion because no immediate danger to children. To that end, a motion was filed and a court date in St. Johns County (only 2 judges in our county) has been set for November, 2014. My co-parent is a Narcissist and has also stated that he signed the parenting plan, but he has no intention of following it. This was after an almost 12 hour + mediation. Is this kidnapping? Can anything else more enforcing be done to deter this type of behaviour on his part as a preventative measure for the future. I feel like the approach I am taking is ‘weak’ and will only result in a ‘slap on the hand’. Also, the cost to me will be 10K, for which I will ask that he pay my fees. Meanwhile, I recognize this is NOT in the best interest of my children. The parenting plan is written in the best interest of the children, with one of the points being that they have the right and access to both of their parents. During the high conflict course they teach, child-focused plan. Where is the backing from the courts on this law they passed when they mandated implementing a parenting plan???? Please help me understand if there is something else I can do that I am not already doing???
    I do have faith, pray, and will never give up the work that I can do in the best interest of our children.
    Thanks!

    • HowardIken

      It sounds like you are being taken care of. No – there is no better way to do things. When you have a parent that wants to play games, and is very intelligent, sometimes it makes for a very difficult case. Have you discussed with your attorney the possibility of having a guardian ad litem appointed? Sometimes a GAL can bring out the truth more effectively.

  • Sonny

    My daughter has been victim to a sociopathic and predatory man for thirteen years. The father abducted my daughter’s babies when they were both under 20 months old (2001). My daughter has had a shared custody order since 2006. She has had no contact for three years now and just received word he moved to Colorado, from Pinellas Co., Florida. She has been through three attorneys in two states and this is never ending. My daughter called her (last) attorney and she (attorney) shunned her, money was all that mattered. My daughter has no money. She cannot file anything in court, (she has tried), because there is no address for the father and her two daughters, as he is hiding them. What can she file? Her children have been kidnapped! How does she find an attorney offering pro bono? Please Help

  • A lost mother

    I am goin throu a divorce. Papers where filed but that’s it. I am wanting to do time share but my ex doesn’t allow me to speak or even see my kids. So i left and moved 193miles away. Becouse being that close to them and not being able to see them or talk to them depressed me. I have another child who is two. That is not my husbonds we both have been apart for four years. I have not seen my kids. My kids have called me secritlly with out their father knowing. Until a last yr. He convesed me he changed and i moved back to recancile my marriage. But he had two other kids with his girlfriend. We all sit and talked. He let the girlfriend know that he was trying to be with me. But she ended up trying to kill her self. so he ended up staying with her. But in the two months that I was back the kids had lived with me for the day i came to town with his mother. I mean i was taking them to school, Feeding them i was being a mother again. And then he did it to me again. He said he was taking the kids out to eat. and never brought them back. I called dcf they didn’t do anything i tryed the police. I back at not being able to talk or see them againg. I had built a good life for me and my child in tx. Then i left everything to move to fl. to be with my kids. and now im starting my life over not being able to get my own place bc i pay child support and cant afford it. I Left a pomotion bc i was try to do right by my kids and my marraige. So i was told to file timeshare. But what’s to keep him from not doing what he wants. Which is noone is going to tell him what he going to do with his kids. So if he decieds he not going to let me see him. to make sure he does what the courts say with out me having to spend money that i don’t have i make mim wage. I don’t even have money to fight for full custody. Because attorneys what 3000. up front and don’t take payment plains. I had and attorney at first who agreed to take paymments but when child support hit me and i told him he dropped me because my 800 got cut to 400 he could keep me as a client. So he filed a with draw. What do to be apart of my kids life. Ive tryed being the bigger person. I don’t want to be around him i just want to rasie my kids and be a mother. What do i do with only and income of 400 a mnth. today is my daughters birthday.

  • http://batman-news.com HECTOR

    I live in Clearwater FL, I have two kids 7 and 10 years old, they live 10 min away from me, I have them every other weekend and every Tuesdays but also their school is right in front of my house so I use to go there and have lunch/visit them; my ex-wife is moving 106 miles away, I knew this at first because my 10 years old told me about the possibility of his mom wanted to move to Ocala and he was/is stress about moving, I questioned her about this a few time but she just told me “I do not know – I am not sure”… well me looking at my 10 years old and the 7 years old son stress just because not knowing what to do I told them whatever decision they made I will support them and I will see them every two weeks and if they stay with me they will see mom every two weeks. She moved last weekend, I already have the address where she moved but I got it on 07/28/14 by mail and the kids school 2 weeks ago. I just want to be clear that I do not agree with it, I am accepting it because I do not want the kids to be more stress so my question is: CAN I ATTACH A COMMUNICATION LETTER TO MY DIVORCE CASE WHERE I EXPLAIN ALL THIS SITUATION???? OR DO I HAVE TO FILE A CASE??? I just do not want her to think I am OK with this and I want to leave it in writing. Thank you!!!

    • HowardIken

      You must file a Motion for Contempt in the divorce case and hold a hearing. An attorney would be best for this. If you do not do anything you may sacrifice your rights. There is a statute that prohibits moves more than 50 miles without court permission.

  • Rachel

    Is there an emergency order to file for temporary custody until a trial is set? I have a 10 year old who is terrified to go to her fathers, DCF has been called (she had bruises and psychological scars), but they can’t with hold her since he has a court order for visitation. We have 50/50 currently.

    • HowardIken

      There is an emergency process. But there has to be significant evidence that an emergency actually exists. The decision is highly dependent on the way the judge looks at your request.

  • Kj

    What are some relatively good custody plans that involve infants and toddlers? I have a nine month old and a two year old. Right now we are using a 2-2-5 plan. It just breaks my heart to not see my children for five days in a row. Are there better options out there where we could both have 50/50 or should 50/50 be for when they are older?

    • HowardIken

      There is no one acceptable plan. The one you are using is very popular. The big problem: any plan you use rapidly becomes obsolete as your children get older. You do not have to strictly stick to a plan if the two of you agree to deviations.

  • Hurting4Her

    I’m pro se for financial reasons. My ex husband is fighting my Petition for Relocation out of state. He has not seen or had contact with our daughter in almost six years. Now that I petitioned for the change he wants monthly visits, rotating school breaks, half summer, and will not agree to receiving or delivering her to an airport at any time other than the 6:00 hour. on Fri and Sun. He also wants to enforce right of first refusal after 12 hours. My proposal was every other month Thur-Sun to coincide with the off days of school, 2/3 of each school break, and two two-week summer visits – obviously tons more time that he’s ever exercised. I’ve refused his and am waiting a trial date. Meanwhile he’s demanding counseling with her (they are there as I type this) and regular visits. She’s 15 and wants nothing to do with him. She feels she was hurt, got angry, and healed – her words – and the relationship is over. I also filed a Motion for Minor testimony. Thoughts?

    • HowardIken

      Most judges in the Sixth Circuit will not allow minor testimony. But there are always exceptions. If you can document that six year period it would seem your petition for relocation should be close to a no-brainer. Be sure to accurately follow the statutory requirements for a relocation case.

  • Teri

    Is it against the law for a father to take custody of his child at the time he separates from his wife and before any court orders have been made regarding custody?

    • HowardIken

      No. Both parents have equal parenting rights.

  • leo leo

    I don’t have a florida drivers license, so I cannot drive. Can this stop me from having my child ? does the law restrain fathers to transport child in public transportation?

    • HowardIken

      That will affect things. But I would say public transportation is ok.

  • Courtney

    I had my almost 4 year old son in October of 2010 his father signed the birth certificate was around for the first month and then left he doesn’t contact us nor does he try to even see him. His side of the family comes around to visit or so but he does not. He’s been through the court system for stealing from Kmart and drugs in and out of rehabs. Can I file emergency full custody and abandoment? I have the 5 dates over the course of 4 years that he’s seen my son. Ive tried everything I can for him to be a dad he chooses not too. I don’t want child support or anything from him I work full time and he’s in Pre-k this I have my own home soon to be husband and a second child to my son my husband is his daddy he doesn’t even know or remember his biological.

    • HowardIken

      You can file a Paternity case to establish child support and parenting schedules. But that is not the proper thing to do if you eventually want to terminate his rights and have your new spouse adopt. That is a bit more complex and will require an attorney.

  • Loving Parent

    I am currently going through a divorce and I am pro se. I have three minor children, 14, 12 and 10 and we have been following the temporary court order. What does the Florida law say in regards to allowing the children to decide whether to visit or not? Is there an age limit in Florida where they can decide who they wan to stay with, or do they have to follow the court order regardless?

    • HowardIken

      Follow the court order. The children cannot decide to withhold a visit.

      • Loving Parent

        Thanks for the feedback. Follow up question. Ok, I understand to follow the court order and I have tried. I have filed a motion of contempt against respondent. If I go over to pick the girls over for my awarded temporary time and the two (2) 14 and 12 refuse to come over, what are my options? Do I call the police and enforce the order? We have trial set for next month. I love them very very much, but they have been poisoned by the other party. I had heard that at a certain age in Florida, child(ren) can decide who they want to spend their time with. It just gets old trying to follow the temporary order, making plans, buying food in preparation for them coming over and then driving over to pick them up to then find out they don’t want to come over and the other parent does not force the issue. Just feel loss and sad. Thoughts or suggestions? Thank again for taking your time to help.

        • FlaGrl

          Wow this is so sad, however, not uncommon. There is a book that you should get….it’s called Divorce Poison. It deals with this exact issue “Parental Alienation”. It will tell you exactly what to do and how to go about it so that you don’t lose what is most important in all of this, your childs respect and confidence! Good luck to you!

        • HowardIken

          I would not involve the police. First, they will not get involved in enforcing a court order, and Second, it is really bad for the kids to see that kind of scene. Just keep requesting your time and be prepared to prove the other parent will not comply with the order.

  • FlaGrl

    I have been divorced since 2005 and at that time I was given child support for my 2 children based on my ex’s income, at that time. I was informed last month that I could modify my support if there was a significant change in my ex’s income. I hired an attorney, an expensive one (as if inexpensive one’s existed…hehe), to handle my modification. This is because I am clairvoyant and I knew that he would turn around and file for custody of our children. Low and behold, he is filing for custody of our children(Maybe I should get a TV show!). All kidding aside, I am sick over this. He is burdening our children with this issue and they are becoming stressed. He is also bribing them. Blatant bribery! My questions to you: Is it often that a judge takes a child/children away from their mother because a father does not want to pay child support? Do the kids have ANY say so and if so is there an age at which they do? I do not want to list any particulars on here bc he is a sneaky person and I haven’t a clue to how far he will go with this. He is one of those “I must WIN at all cost” kind of people. Although this is not a game, that is his mentality, which is so unfortunate because the only people who will truly suffer from all of this are HIS children. Thank you for your help.

    • HowardIken

      He must prove a “substantial change of circumstances” occurred that will justify a change in time sharing. That is normally difficult to show. Child support is a bit easier because an income change can satisfy the standard.

  • Kathy

    My daughter lives in Florida. She is not married however lives with her significant other. She has been with him and his son for 3 years before having a daughter. She has begged and pleaded with this man to go to counseling to no avail. He has just labeled her a Bitch. The unfortunate things are she has taken on his son and mothered him and loves him very much. She took on sharing all of his debt with bankruptcy, job, inconsistency of living arrangements just to mention a few pieces of the baggage. The fortunate thing for my daughter is that he is a good dad when he has time. Bottom line is she is miserable has been for the last 3 years but does not know what to do. She does not want a fight, explained this to him and he told her she better get a lawyer because his mommy and daddy will get him one. She is a bitch and he is going to end up hating her. She can’t afford to live on her own as she is applying for school to continue her education (with no help from him). She wants to move to Maryland but with a non fighting custody issue. She is willing for him to have the baby when possible, and is willing to do what she can to make sure this is adhered to. Does she have any rights to move?

    • HowardIken

      Until there is a court order in place she is allowed to move. The Florida relocation statute does not apply unless there was some type of court order in place. But she should be aware he may file a Paternity lawsuit and try to force the child back to Florida. At that point it will be up to the judge.

  • jason

    i have been given temp majority custody can this be reversed in final judgement?

    • HowardIken

      Temporary orders are always subject to change in a final judgment.

  • tracy

    Hi, I have a issue with my ex husband and he is trying to put rules of what goes on in my home while the kids are with me. I have a 14 yr dd, 13 yr dd, and soon to be 12 yr son and a 10 yr old dd. just recently my 14 yr daughter wants to stay home with him and not visit with me. My other children want to live with me. I live 3 hours away from them. We went to court to change parenting plan/time sharing but nothing was work out. I dont want my children to have to put up with what i had to put up with when we was married and he is treating our kids like he did me when we was married and when they come to visit me i always have to get lice out of their hair. I need help but i dont have alot of money but i do work.. Im so tired of not being able to see my kids or seeing my kids crying when they go home they had to hide the things i buy cause does not aloud them. can u help or guide me in the right way.

    • HowardIken

      Sorry but I can only answer short questions here. If you have some targeted questions I would be glad to answer them.

  • Denise Tatum

    MY SON WORKS BUT BARELY GETS BY HIS GIRLFRIEND OF 9 YEARS UP AND LEFT 2 MONTHS AGO AND LEFT HIM WITH A 3YR OLD AND AN 18 MONTH OLD, WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS TO GETTING CUSTODY

    • HowardIken

      He needs to file a Paternity case. It is similar to a divorce but specifically addresses paternity, parenting rights, and support.

  • Brandon

    Hi, my son was born a little over 4 months ago and me and the mother could not work things out. I have not seen my son in 3 weeks and the mother will not talk to me or respond to any communications. ie. text, calls, etc. I am hesitant about going to court because I am not sure if it is the right move, but I feel like I am being forced to do so. I spoke with her today for the first time because of some stuff that happened(which is mind blowing that she is doing this) but she said that until I respect her, etc etc. I could not see my son because she wasnt going to give me the time to bring him to see me. (of course in the process of fresh separation there is emotions flowing and all that, im not a bad guy but i have my moments when i was mean). Is there an alternative from going to court? What would be the first thing to do if I took it to court? I am on the birth certificate. Is there forms I can fill out? I read that paternity can be waived by father signing something stating he knowingly is the father. We are in separate counties, can I file in my county? I really cant afford an attorney and I dont want things to get nasty, which ive seen before. Thank you, so much for your help.

    • HowardIken

      Sorry you cannot see your son. But there is no real alternative to going through court. With a child that is born out of wedlock, you have parental rights – but those rights are undefined and unenforceable until you file the proper type of case. You need to file a Paternity case.

      • Brandon

        Do i have legal right for that child, ie. Medical stuff, if mother passed away? Or does paternity have to be established in court? I am taking steps to try and fix my family but don’t want to set off any alarms but I just want to be safe bc anything could happen esp. If i have to take him to the hospital or something if he’s with me.
        Can this be filed in any county? If so which will be faster in central fl?

  • casha

    my ex is in prision in ohio for the next 18 years atleast for raping a 13 year old and impreganting her. he left me when i was two months pregant has never been involved in my 8 year old son’s life. I want to find out what i can do to get abadoment charges or if he can lose his custody. I have been diagnosed with chf and i don’t want a chance of him getting him. He has been in and out of prison his whole life. When our divorce was finalized he was a abscoder of florida and was ruled it would be dangerous for my child to have contact with him till he came back to the state to protest it. and he ended up in jail again.

    • HowardIken

      With a sentence that long – you may be able to file for termination of parental rights. But that is extremely complicated. If will be difficult without an attorney.

  • HowardIken

    You are not going to get what you want by calling CPS . They have no authority to impose a parenting plan. And your DV judge has made it clear the court will not work out a temporary parenting plan. Some DV judges will, some DV judges do not want to deal with it. Your only recourse is to file for divorce. You will end up with an enforceable parenting plan.

    • terrence2

      You don’t think CPS would take the kids from her and put them in my care for child abuse?

      • HowardIken

        Sure, if there is actual child abuse. But that is a very high standard to prove.

  • Ally Jones

    Can my ex move to Florida from Texas without my permission as means to get more child support? We recently went through mediation and she did not get as much spousal support as she wanted so the very next day sent me an email stating she will need to move to Florida “due to outcome of mediation”. Is this legal?

    • HowardIken

      Sounds like this would be governed by Texas law if that is where the last court order was issued. I cannot comment on Texas law.

  • PokaDotty

    Ex has remarried and new spouse has insurance provide at zero cost to cover kids. Ex said no need to provide insurance anymore since kids are covered and it’s a headache dealing with which insurance is 1st and which is 2nd. Is something in writing sufficient or is a modification needed to stop providing health care coverage?

    • HowardIken

      You will need a modification if the cost was incorporated into the child support guidelines. Otherwise, you are probably ok with a written agreement.

  • amartinez

    hi my childs mother is trying to keep me from seeing my child unless I pay my child support before my due date and unless I pay her I wont be able to see my child. and as well I have another on the way can they lower my child support due to having another baby on the way

    • HowardIken

      After born babies with another partner will not lower previous child support orders. Also, it is wrong of her to deny parenting time based on payment.

  • Wendy Ferlanie

    My Son had full custody of his 12 year old son for the last 4 years due to the childs mom being deemed unfit because of drug addictions.
    My Son died in a work related accident in Tampa 2 weeks ago. The child has now been ripped from his step mom and 2 baby brothers and forced to live with his drug addicted mom and her parents against his wishes. The child was not even allowed to grieve with his family. How can I, as his GrandMother, be able to still see my GrandSon ? The ex-daughter in law and her parents will never be cooperative for visits. Is there any court or mediation options ? My GrandSon was so unhappy over the summer when he was forced to visit these people that my son had petitioned the courts to set up an adlitem person that could speak for him. Mediation dates had been set for Oct. 20th and Dec. 8th. Now with my sons death, what options are out there to help us as a family to continue our relationship with our GrandSon whom we love to the moon and back ? Please advise. My Grandson was extremely close to his baby brothers Chase 3 and Dallas 1 whom until my sons passing, he lived with.

    • HowardIken

      You need to file an adversarial case – quickly. The exact type and chance of success depends on many facts. But this is not an easy or inexpensive case to pursue.

  • Fran Snyder

    My boyfriend just got shared custody of his son and suppose to be getting him every other week, but his ex is refusing to let him see his son as the judge had said. Him and her got papers about the custody order, but the judge has yet to sign them. Now my question is, is the custody order suppose to be in affect after court that day, or does it need to be signed by the judge first? My boyfriend is upset and shes not allowing him to see his son until the papers are signed. What should he do?

    • HowardIken

      Everyone is supposed to follow the ruling immediately after court. But technically the judge needs to sign the order before either party can be in contempt of court.

      • Fran Snyder

        Since she is still keeping the visitations the same as they were before until the papers are signed, can he legally go against her and just keep his son for the week like what the judge said then, or is that not a good idea? Hes really upset that he had to give his son back this evening since this is the week he was to have him.

        • HowardIken

          The best idea is to always follow what the judge ruled – even before the order is signed.

  • Adrian Williams

    My son’s mother told me last week within the next 60 days she is moving to PA from FL, She did not discuss this with me just advised me she is leaving. My son resides with me full time, not court ordered, it was a decision her and I made 3 years ago because she was to busy to attend to his school necessities , while having 3 other children she is a single mother to which there fathers reside in the PA,NJ area. She will be taking him up to PA to where he will have no biological family, however her three other children’s fathers all live up north.My child has all paperwork excluding his health insurance under my address and goes to school in my district for last 3 years. Even when going to school in his mother’s distract 4 years ago he was still with me 4-5 days a week. At the current time she is demanding he goes with her , however I do not agree with this ,our current verbal agreement is she picks him up Friday and bring him home Sunday but she lacks on her part weekly. His mother does not show for her visits until Saturday evenings and drops him back home either late Sunday night or tardy for school on Monday mornings. There are many times he will go with her on the weekend and she will drop him off at a friend or relatives house, There for not even spending her current shared time with him. She also put me on child support for the first year he was living with me full time, which I never demanded back. She is more than welcome to leave the state of FL ,I do not want child support I just want our son to live with me in FL full time. I will be happy to set up time sharing for Holidays, spring break, birthdays, and summers. What rights do I have in the state of Florida as an unwed father to keep her from taking him and allowing me to be the primary parent?

    • HowardIken

      You have equal rights – but those rights are not yet defined. You need to file a Paternity case ASAP. That will also put into place a prohibition against relocating children outside the jurisdiction.

  • civiam

    I went through a very long (4 years) nasty divorce and custody battle. My ex left and had no contact with the kids for almost 3 years … no phone calls … not even on holidays or their birthdays … he finally returned home and has unfortunately fooled me again … I had an injunction against him because of domestic violence… when he returned to Florida he had a girlfriend with him and her 2 children. I thought this would be a good thing … he had moved on and we can finally be civil and raise our kids together. He has done everything except be civil! I have asked him to change the pickup/drop off location since I am drive one way what he drives round trip … he refuses … I let the kids stay with him for 9 days in a row when the court only ordered 7 … mind you the entire time my kids dread going … we have 3 together … our youngest was 2 years old when he left, the next was 4 years old, and the oldest was 6 years old. They all witnessed the domestic violence 2 different times. He has threatened to burn our home down, taken tires off my vehicle so I couldnt drive, shut off our electric, internet (I was taking online classes and finishing my last semester for my AA), and cable. As I said above … I really prayed that he had moved on … but since the kids have been visiting him it has been a mess. They cry when they have to leave, they cry when they come home and beg me not to make them go back. He is usually late, rarely are they fed or showered like court ordered … he returns them in dirty clothes that they were wearing when he picked them up 2 days earlier. Today was the last straw for me … he is not supposed to physically punish the kids … my daughter came home crying that he spanked her because she did not want him to brush her hair … then she didnt want to talk to him on the way home so he told her he was going to bury her in his back yard. He told one of our sons if he ever wears his gator shirt to his house again he is going to burn it! To top it off … when he finally showed up 30 minutes late … he was DRUNK! :( His girlfriend was driving but I have posting from her FB stating she takes valium. :( I was told to file an Emergency Child Custody form! Is this correct? Can anyone help me? I cannot afford an attorney … I had legal aid but now that the divorce has been finalized they will not help me. I truly fear for the safety of my kids!

    • HowardIken

      You should consider paying for limited advice. That will help you map out a strategy. Very few people cannot afford a couple of paid consults with an attorney and the potential benefits are huge.

  • Rosario

    I’m living with my daughters dad and we own a home together. The property has appreciated since we purchased it but he does not want to sell. The only way I can afford to live in a 2 bedroom home is with the proceeds of the house. Does my daughter need her own room? She’s only 2 years old. I know other states require that the child most have a separate room but does FL enforce it?

    • HowardIken

      You can get away with your 2 yo in your room for right now. BTW: you can file a type of court case called a Partition to force a sale of the property.

  • Myrna

    I had my son 2 1/2 years ago and his father has not been a part of his life since he was 3 months old. I live in Florida and my son was born in Florida, but my sons father moved to Georgia. He has a severe drug and alcohol problem of which he has constantly been in and out of jail for. I have also had a no contact order put in place since my son was 3 months because he got physically violent with me. So my question is, am I able to file for full custody of my son so its in paper that I am his sole parent? Only reason I ask is because I am hesitant about taking him to court for this because I have heard the judges will give him a chance of visitation and to pay child support, but with his state of mind I am very afraid he will take my son and try to disappear. What is the best thing for me to do?

    • HowardIken

      Tough to say. You are correct that opening a can of worms sometimes will result in something you do not want. You are also correct that most parents will receive parenting time. This is a personal decision to “roll the dice”

  • Toni

    I’m leaving my daughters father because he has a drug problem and he is abusive. He has pending domestic violence charges against him also. Am I able to tell the school to remove him from the list of approved people to pick her up since we don’t have any formal time sharing agreement yet? I don’t want him to take her and not give her back to hurt me! Thank you!

    • HowardIken

      Every school has different policies. It probably will not hurt you to try if there are really severe issues with the dad.

  • Julie

    For the last 3 years I have been through a very nasty custody battle. I live in Georgia and my children live in Florida with their father. My daughters are age 16 and 14. Both have requested to relocate to Georgia to live with me. Their father agreed to it then at the last minute decided it did nto work best for him. What age can they make the decision? Or do we need to go back to court for the judge to decide?

    • HowardIken

      You need to go back to court. The children never have the last say.

    • Anna

      Do not go back if you havent put in a motion to leave the State. The judge will instantly take the children from you. It could be a trick

      • anna

        I’m sorry I read that wrong. Yes, you should go back and they are old enough to speak on their own. If you need a attorney I have one that will help and shes 35years in florida

  • Trish

    Can I have a custody/child support revised case transferred to another county. The judge won’t allow my child to speak in court, ruling for the father, allowing for a GAL, but I have to pay. My ex makes 3 times what I make, our child is 16, and has always wanted to talk in court, this has been dragged out since 2012, with the GAL working for her for over a year now. I’ve paid $1700 so far for the GAL and am unable to continue paying, it’s been over a year and she hasn’t worked on the case much.

    • HowardIken

      In general, no. As long as either parent or child is in the original jurisdiction – the case says there. You may have an opportunity to transfer the case if everyone has moved away.

  • Stephanie Harris

    My daughter ran away she was missing for 45 days. She was found in Montana from Florida. Now her father my ex husband has told her so many un true things, She has not been for my every other weekend visits since she went missing. My ex husband says our daughter will tell the judge she never wants to come back to my house again. She is angry with me. before she went Missing we had a great relationship. We had worked out are issues. Would a judge allow her to choose to never see me. I have never abused her. I belife she still after ten years has not dealt with us being divorced.

    • Stephanie Harris

      He also has blocked my number to call her.

      • HowardIken

        Normally a child cannot choose to exclude one parent. Also, the blocked number is a violation of shared parenting principles. You may want to go back to court to enforce your judgement.

  • mike

    So, I am the noncustodial dad here in florida of a 15 yo girl. The mother decided she wanted to move to wyoming to pursue a doctorate. I challenged the court petition and lost. Do i have any recourse. I feel as though the venue was inappropriate. The ex got the case moved to her county where she is a teacher and her husband is a cop, and her late father an attorney. I have always exercised my visitation and payed my support and lost my daughter in the course of a 15 minute court hearing. Btw, I asked the first judge to recuse himself due to the fact that he knew her late father…. thanx

    • HowardIken

      You can appeal the case. But that is complex and expensive. If that is an option for you – there is a very strict timeline.

  • Need Help

    My daughter is 14yrs old and her father is now trying to have a relationship with her. He has recently moved back to Florida and wants to see her she has made it very clear she wants no contact with him. He is now threatening to take me to court because he thinks I do not want him to see her (which is not the case; its what she has chosen) Can the courts force her to visit him??

    • HowardIken

      This is complex. The judge will most likely want to hear you are trying to facilitate their relationship.

  • father who wants time

    my 2 children now live at home with there mother. i had them for 4 years with assistance from the government, while she was in federal prison. Now she has them and wants to tell me when and how i can visit with my children and will not allow them at my house with my fiancee who has been with me for 5 years. my fiancee has been around them the last few years she was in prison an now does not want my kids in contact with her.
    can she set theses rules? what can i do? please help i do not want to take legal action to see my kids i just want to be able to get them an take them were i want when i have them

  • Aileen

    I feel like I’m not getting any type of communication from the father at all. Now he has a girlfriend and it has been about a year that they have been together. But his mother, the grandmother of the children is the one that does everything for him and with our son. I do not approve of this because the responsibility should be from the mom and dad, not the grandmother. But I really have no say in this because if I say anything, I am the one creating problems. All I want is for the father to take responsibility for his son. Taking responsibility is not only paying child support but being there actively with the child(ren). We have a court order stating that we share responsibility for the child but that the child lives with me more than 50% of the time. But he does not share responsibility with me at all. His mom is the one doing everything for him. For example, she picks up the child every other weekend and once a week. Please help me and guide me as to what I should do.

    • HowardIken

      The court cannot force someone to be a good, involved parent. But there is a principle: “use it or lose it” It sounds to me that you have grounds for modification.

      • Aileen

        What type of modification can I have done? On what grounds? The last time we went to court, I made my own case because I did not have a lawyer. The father had a lawyer and lost the case. He wanted full custody.

        • HowardIken

          A modification of your parenting plan. If he never spends time in-person, and simply handing off his child to someone else – that sounds like sufficient grounds to modify.

  • Tina

    My son’s dad took him this weekend and refused to return him. My son has lived with me for the entire 8 years of his life and now his dad wants to keep him because he thinks my boyfriend of 3 years is now a threat to my son. My son has never been hurt in any way by my boyfriend; however, without consent my sister video taped an argument in my home between her and my boyfriend. Also, she (my sister) hacked into my facebook and took screen shots of private arguments between my boyfriend and I that implicated threatening words towards myself and my children. My boyfriend has never been physically abusive towards myself or children and the arguments never take place in earshot of the children. The father of my son has been arrested several times for domestic violence and drug possession. He is over 30K behind in child support, never has a steady job, and lives with his parents while driving on a suspended license. I’m a RN, no criminal history, my own home and valid drivers license. I know my son would prefer to stay with me and his sister-however I read below that under age testimony usually isn’t allowed. I’ve filed for an emergency motion but it was denied because there was not immediate danger posed. I know my ex’s parents are funding an attorney for him. Is it likely that I would win the custody case against my ex without the use of an attorney? Also, can I file a suit against my sister for privacy intrusion? If I do file a suit against my sister does that dismiss the video footage and screenshots that were illegally obtained?

    • HowardIken

      Audio recordings in Florida without the consent of both parties are illegal. Most illegal evidence will not be accepted by a judge as admissible in a proceeding. You would need to speak to a Tort lawyer about the privacy intrusion. You need to follow up with a paternity case and a motion for child pickup. No telling if you can accomplish that without an attorney. It is always best to hire a legal professional. See our recently posted article http://www.myfloridalaw.com/child-custody-law/establishing-paternity-in-florida/

  • Gretchen

    my son’s father is refusing to let him travel with us to north carolina for his grandmas memorial service for thanksgiving weekend only because it’s his holiday to have him. Is there anything I can do in this case? My son is 13- will be 14 in January and he wants to go. He has primary “custody” and I only get him on the weekends and one week a month.

    • HowardIken

      About the only thing you can do is to file for an emergency hearing. Otherwise, you would be violating the court order. There is no easy loophole.

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  • damaris aponte-blades

    My son is 17 and was hit by his father, he will be 18 in 5 months. Department of children and family was called by school but case has been closed. My son does not want to go back to his father. We have shared custody and shared visitation 50/50 during the week since 2000. What are my sons options?

    • HowardIken

      These are the most difficult situations. You may want to just keep him at your house. The courts jurisdiction will be terminated in 5 months – it is difficult to see how the visitation pattern could be effectively enforced in that time.

  • chad

    i was just granted by the court 50/50 time sharing of my daughter that is a 1 year old. My ex is now filing an appeal and my attorney is gonna charge $5k to take the case further and I have liquidated everything possible up to this point. My question is do I have a chance of winning the appeal w/o an attorney. I just cant see a judges ruling being overturned.

    • HowardIken

      5K is a very low amount of money for an appeal. But be aware, you get what you pay for. An appeal is extremely complex and requires a highly-researched appellate brief. Chances are slim you will be able to pull off your own appeal without an attorney. Approx 10% of appeals succeed. But your case may be in that 10%

  • need help

    My child’s father and I have shared parental responsibility but he is moving to another state. He insists I allow my child to fly to see him on school breaks, etc (accompanied by a family member of his). Currently his visitation is every other weekend and school breaks. Am I required to comply with the out of state visits? I do not know the people he will be living with. Is the FL parenting plan only valid here in FL? He is stating he will take me to court if I don’t. I cannot afford a lawyer by any means.

    • HowardIken

      You should work with him – as long as you do not see any real danger. He will most likely get his way if the situation goes to court.

  • Dad wants to make things right

    My ex wife and I have a shared parenting plan of 50/50 custody however his primary address for all forms including school is my address. Listed in the agreement is that any changes to physical address, mailing address, contact phone numbers, etc must be reported to the other parent within 24 hours and to the courts within 7 days (it has now been a little over 3 weeks). I know that she has moved because my 7 yr old son has informed me but she still til this day has not formally in writing conveyed this info to me per our agreement. Can I use this to change our custody agreement to where he is with me about 80% of the time now? I just don’t feel like she can be trusted if she can’t even take the time to inform me of where she is now living. There are no documents or anything stating we are not supposed to know where the other lives, it’s the actually the opposite. It states the other parent MUST know where the child is going to be living.

    • HowardIken

      The first place to start would be an enforcement action – and then see where that goes.

  • theresa

    My husband and I have been together for 5 years, and he has cared for my daughter from a previous relationship since she was 11 months. Her bio dad has not seen her in over a year, and before that he was in and out of her life since she was 11 months. He begged me not to make him pay child support for he couldn’t afford to raise her… My husband would like to adopt her now. I don’t know where he lives but since he’s been an absent parent and not paying child support do I need his consent to do this? My husband is who my daughter knows as daddy. Also I would like to have her last name changed to our last name, will that be done during the adoption process?

    • HowardIken

      Yes – all of that can be done. There is a combination process where bio dad’s rights can be terminated pending adoption by the step-dad. Yes, you will need consent if you want the process simplified. Otherwise you will need to do this through a contested process – a lot more complex. Yes, the final judgment can include a name change which will result in an amended birth certificate. The new birth certificate will show your husband as the natural father.

  • Sam

    I have been a stay at home mom for the entire 10 years of my relationship with my husband. We are now deciding to get a divorce and don’t know where to start. I just started a part time job that pays minimum wage and he is self employed making about $5,000 a month. If we get 50/50 “custody” of our daughter, what would he be expected to pay in child support? Or does he have to? I don’t want the courts to be involved with our finances because I trust him and would like to work the expenses out between us. He has 2 daughters from a previous marriage and I think the whole system can be disorganized and unfair. Is there a way for him to not have to pay child support if we agree on equal obligation from the both of us?

    • HowardIken

      Yes, you can agree to zero child support with a rotating custody arrangement. The agreement will have to be properly put together for the judge to accept that arrangement.

  • AJ

    I live in FL. I do not currently have an parenting agreement. I cover my daughter’s expenses 100% and have for the last 4 years. She sees her father every other weekend and Holiday during the school year and every other week during the summer. She recently voiced to me that she wants to see her father and brother but is not pleased with her father’s girlfriend or children. The girlfriend was verbally threatening toward me and my elder child for the first year she was around and finally was informed by the police that she is not to contact me, so there is cause for concern. If my child decides she doesn’t want to go to her father’s and I back her up will the courts see this as a bad thing if he takes me to court?

    • HowardIken

      It really depends on many different facts. I assume you were never married? If not, the father’s rights are still legally undefined.

  • me

    If I call DCF on someone in Florida – where do they place the children if they are taken away? Will they be given to a family member?

    • HowardIken

      Family members have a strong preference in temporary placements.

  • Jami

    We live in Florida and my sons dad has been out of the picture for over 2 years now. He pays child support through the court (Not the full court ordered amount) my son is 14 and doesn’t really want to see his dad since he just up and left. The dad is saying he will get custody arrangements and we will have to abide by them etc. Does my son have a say in this? As of right now he does not want to see him or stay with him. I told the dad we could meet up with him and visit but he refuses to do that. So my main concern is do teenagers have a say in this or not? The last documented information with the courts is that my son told them he didn’t want to see him. We have never been married and never been through the courts for custody arrangements only child support.
    Thank You!

    • HowardIken

      Yes and no. The statutes give the reasonable preference of the child some weight. But in practice children tend to have no way to express their desires. Plus there is a reluctance by the court to have children choose to completely exclude one parent. There would have to be extreme facts for that to happen.

  • Erica

    My daughters biological father hasn’t seen her in over 2 years & pays child support once every 5 months. He is in contempt of everything we agreed on. Can I file abandonment charges?

    • HowardIken

      I assume you want to terminate his rights? Failure to pay child support is not enough.

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  • FlaGrl

    I recently went to a deposition where my attorney examined my ex husband going over each and every allegation he had made against me in his response to my motion for modification. He makes about 2.5-3.0M a year and I get about $5k a month. I have always been grateful and never complained but since I needed to supplement my income I tried to start a few businesses out of my home. In doing so I needed his cooperation with our children, taking them for his share of the standard order to which we agreed to in our divorce 9/10 years ago. He has always said to me I do not have to exercise my visitation with you, that is what I pay you child support for”. In the time we have been divorced, he has NEVER taken our children for a summer break, a xmas break, a spring break, I think you get the picture. Well now all of a sudden he realizes what he has done. SO he too hired an attorney and during depositions he lied so badly I thought I was going to vomit. Straight to my attorneys face! One lie after another. I was sick. I couldn’t believe my ears. And then his attorney begins to cross examine me and is just nasty, totally unprofessional and I called him out on it, politely. I am the daughter of an attorney who has had me on the stand for the better part of the past 42 years, so I am use to this kind of unnecessary, cruel rhetoric, unfortunately. My question to you is this, do I or should I get written statements from my friends and children friends refuting the blasphemy this man was spouting about me. Only because it is wha was written in his response to my filing for modification, his counter basically seeking custody of my children. We have ordered the transcript from the depo already and I will go through it with a fine tooth comb and respond to each lie individually, but do you think it would behoove me to start getting letters and statements together to prove these lies wrong? I want to tell you some of the stuff but I am already afraid that I have said too much and may get caught writing on here. Thank you for your advice and also for this site. I truly have gotten a lot of information from it and I can see that many others are too!

    • HowardIken

      You could get those items together for the purpose of informing your attorney. But don’t be too disappointed – most judges become rapidly bored by an endless stream of evidence showing someone is a liar. Evidence showing a lie should be carefully selected and targeted. Also, written statements only serve as a heads-up on what a potential witness would offer in court. Letters from potential witnesses are not admissible evidence. You would need them to physically appear in court.

  • bob

    If the primary custodial Parent moves 35 mile away from the other parent, does the parent have to pick up and drop off their kids (the moving parent doing all the driving) Or does one parent pick up an one drop off? The one parent refuses to pick up the children on his weekend now that the mom has moved further away. Four weekends have been missed since the move.

    Thanks,

    Bob

    • HowardIken

      There is no hard and fast rule on that. But in general, the person “causing” the longer commute should absorb the additional effort.

  • t.briz

    my daughters father does not take care of her properly he allowed her to miss 13 days of school in a months time,we were never married at time of birth and once before granted me the ability to take her from his custody as i am the custodial holding parent does this still allow me to pick up my daughter from him on a permanant basis?

    • HowardIken

      Do you have any type of court order? Was a Paternity case ever filed?

  • forum guest

    I want to go back to court to become my sons custodial parent. He has lived with his mom in florida since our divorce. My ex wife and her family recently moved from a 3 bed home to a 1 bed home. There are 2 adults and 3 children. All the kids sleep in the living room. Is this against the law and would I have a chance at getting custody? He currently is staying with me in tennessee but she wants him back at the end of the school year

    • HowardIken

      There is no specific law on that. But there are standards of common sense that are applied by the court. Yes. I would say you have a chance.

  • Guest

    I have shared parental rights 50/50. My ex moved from one end of our county to the other Brevard. The kids were 35 miles away Palm Bay now they are 45 miles away Mims. I have them on my 4 day break from the fire department. My question is she is custodial parent, She has 2 other children with 2 other men. My kids are 10 and 7. My wife and I live in a 4 bedroom home and we live in a good neighborhood with great schools. My ex lives in a trailer and doesn’t work and lives off her boyfriend and the government WIC, EBT etc. How the hell can I not be Primary custodial parent?? My wife and I own our home the kids have their own rooms and a stable environment. Why do I have to taken them to school and back everyday 45 miles there and back. Why can I not have them fulltime with my choice of school district?

    • HowardIken

      Those are good questions. But the best time to ask them was at the original proceeding. You can file a modification now – but the statutes create a presumption that the original parenting plan was best for the children.

  • Nicole

    Yes, so my child’s father and I have a 50/50 time sharing plan. He has an attorney, as for myself, I can not afford an attorney. Our time sharing plan was put into place since 2010, our child went to his house while I worked, after work I would pick our son up and he would go to bed at my house. I was working two jobs at the time. In 2011, I stopped working two jobs and only worked one, since than my son started going to his father’s house everyother weekend. In March of 2012 my child’s father started giving me child support, 100 a week, only lasted for about 2 months and we ended up back together shortly after that. The relationship ended a few short months later and than he started using our child as a pawn. Keeping him from me, forcing me to file contempts on him. He took me to court, for about 6 months and than stopped. Never filed anything else. So I filed for child support a year later, after he was ordered to pay a significant amount of child support, he lawyered up. Since it states in our parenting plan we have 50/50 his child supportd went down. Now his lawyer has filed a contempt on me saying I broke the parenting plan, but our parenting plan has no guidelines, it just states we have 50/50 time-sharing. What does that even mean? If we have not been following the time-sharing plan and his father only wants to be a parent when it benefits him. What should I do? Should I bring witnesses to prove my side of the story? I am an emotional wreck, I am thinking of moving back to Texas, I have no family here and it’s been very difficult. I am just wondering how long it takes to get approval from a judge to move and what are the likes without an attorney?

    • HowardIken

      Relocation would be an uphill battle in a 50/50 parenting plan. Especially if you do not have an attorney.

  • step mom

    My step daughter and her husband divorced 10 yrs ago with full custody being given to the father.
    They got back back together and have lived together for the last 10 yrs.
    Now they have again split. Does their 16 yr old
    daughter have the right to choose which parent she lives with?

    • HowardIken

      Not normally. But they should definitely take her concerns seriously because it is difficult to control a 16 yo. Judges also recognize that particular issue.

  • tired of driving

    I have a 50/50 parenting plan that says my address is to be used for school designation, unless I move out of the city, we will call School City, then the dad’s address will be used. The dad never lived in School City, but his parents do, which is why he wanted it that way. I moved to another city, 25 miles away. Our child still attends school in School City. So now our son is being transported by me 25 miles one way for half the week, and by his dad 5 miles one way, the other half of the week, and the child is not even legally allowed to be going to that school. I filed for a modification claiming substantial change in circumstances, that it is not good for the child to have to be transported that far,that my other two kids go to school in our hometown, they have different schedules and it is disruptive, they can’t take the same vacations and days off, etc., it is costing me a lot and the child has to get up super early to go to school, I have to hire a babysitter for the other two so that I can take our son all the way to School City in the morning, and do the same in the afternoon, etc. and I want residential to remain my address, so he can go to school in the town where I live for half the week, and offered to help with transportation for the other half. The judge denied my motion saying I do not have a substantial change in circumstances. Should I appeal? How can we continue to have the child in school where he is not legally allowed to be?

    • HowardIken

      You always have the right of appeal if done in the required amount of time. But keep in mind that most appeals fail. Also, they are very expensive. But it is also true that some judges enter orders that are either unreasonable, or that do not comply with requirements of the law.

  • Karen

    Hi, my ex and I have about a 60/40 split (I have the higher percent of time sharing). Though my son’s father (he is 5 years old) is seeking to have it changed to 50/50 or for him to have the higher amount of visitation time..were in the middle of setting up a day for mediation but because of the holidays and work schedules it’s not something that we’ll be doing until the end of Jan. My ex doesn’t let me speak to our son when he has him. In more then a dozen attempts to call my son in months he has answered maybe about 4 or 5 times. Our agreement does state in our plan that were allowed to call our son and speak to him when he is with the other parent. I started a motion of contempt a couple of months ago but some other things come up and I didn’t finish seeking the case and then later on he turns around with a request to change the time sharing plan..have you seen any motion of contempt cases for this reason? What was the outcome? Do you think this will help me keep the time I have? I mean don’t the courts frown heavily when one parents is keeping the other from the child? I don’t call everyday or all day long. I try to keep it to just one call a day and of course being the age of my son it’s a short conversation. I call either in the AM or PM.

    • HowardIken

      Yes, I think you have a valid contempt issue. Both parents should have reasonable access to their children – despite where the timesharing is on any particular moment. Yes, I think that will affect his modification petition. But you need to be prepared to prove what has happened.

  • Nikki

    My kids are 11 and 9 yrs old. They hate going to their dads because they don’t have their own rooms and they sleep on the couch and their dad is lazy and doesn’t do anything with them. In the passed there was supervised visitation because of substance abuse but since then has Wednesdays and every other weekend. My kids don’t want to spend the night tenor anymore because they can’t sleep there and are t comfortable there. Is there a way for them to choose at their ages to NOT do sleep over visits?

    • HowardIken

      They cannot choose but it does sound like you have valid grounds for modification.

  • tyrensis

    My bf was notified a couple months ago that he is going to be a father from a past relationship. the child has since been born but the mother is only allowing very limited access to the child. My bf will be submitting for DNA testing to confirm results and he is filing a paternity suit in court to establish a parenting plan. My question is what type or how can he establish a plan that can be modified as the child grows?

    • HowardIken

      Any parenting plan can be modified in the future. But there is always the problem that circumstances change as the child grows. One technique we use is a negotiated provision to remove “substantial change of circumstances” as a requirement for future modification. But that is something best left to an attorney.

  • John Bos

    My fiance has custody of her 7 year old daughter. Her custody agreement states that the father has visitation rights of every other weekend, and the holidays are every other year. He had her daughter on Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. This year she allowed him to take her the day before Thanksgiving with the agreement that we would pick her up at noon on Thanksgiving day. When she texted him letting him know we were on our way, he said that they were not home, and refused to tell my fiance where her daughter was. They texted back and forth for the majority of the day, but he would not tell her where they were, and would not let my fiance talk to her daughter. He then kept her over the entire weekend because he felt he was owed that since my fiance took her for 4 hours on a Saturday that was his weekend for a birthday party (which they agreed upon via text). He has been growing increasingly aggressive, insulting, and demanding to my fiance, and is telling her daughter that he is going to get custody because her mother is no good, and the state is going to give her to him. She has always let him have access to their daughter, and routinely lets him get her even though it’s not his day or week. She has never tried to keep her from him. It seems that his new GF of 3 months is egging him on to pursue this, and has been sending passive aggressive demeaning texts to my fiance. Other than a motion for contempt for not following the agreed custody arrangement, what other recourse does she have?

    • HowardIken

      That is the first step. It is also usually the second step. The steps after that become progressively harsh.

      • John Bos

        When you said that this is usually the second step, what is usually the first step? Can you elaborate on the steps that are progressively harsh? My fiance doesn’t want to go down this road because of what it may do to her daughter.

        • HowardIken

          Usually you need to file a motion for contempt and be successful. Typically there are reasons to do the same thing again months later. If that is successful, you may have grounds for a modification petition.

  • Ms. Wonder

    My daughter has a 2 year old daughter by a father that hasn’t done anything for her not even purchase diapers for her. He has recently been placed on child support not even with her receiving the 1st check for child support he goes and applies for Time Sharing and wanting all custodial rights in making the child’s decisions for her life and wanting my daughter to pay 50/50 in child support which was his threat to do if she ever placed him on child support. How can you file for time sharing and you don’t even attend her parties which we have invited, or keep her nights mom works, excuses this child doesn’t even know him much, and on two attempts that he got her as an infant he tried to run away with her. My daughter is afraid what do we do

    • HowardIken

      He has the right to seek parenting time. But based on history, it is unlikely he will get a large amount of overnights. Ultimately though – that is his right.

  • Frustrated in Florida

    My bf is in the process of filing for divorce. There isn’t a custody order in placed. He has two kids, 12 and 13. He pays her what the online calculator stated to pay until the courts tell him otherwise. The mother moved all of them in with her sister. The kids sleep on the floor in the living room. His daughter, 12, cuts and went from being a straight A student to now failing half her classes. The 13 yo son only takes a shower twice a week and is failing more than half of his classes. They have an older son that the mother encouraged to drop out of school that cuts as well. We have called child protective services and they did a drug screen onsight with the mother and requested that she go to counseling for abuse. The daughter is supposed to go to counseling for the cutting. Neither of them goes to counseling. Does he have grounds to transfer their school and put them in a more stable environment?

    • HowardIken

      Right now the two of them have equal rights. Yes, this sounds like there is a need for action – right now.

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  • JustwanttobeCordial

    My child’s father petitioned me for a visitation one month after her birth, we had moved out of state as discussed with her father prior to the birth by then. . We didn’t make it before a judge until 7 months after, the state in which he began the paper work still holds jurisdiction. I have asked my attorney to request it be moved looking at the time line and the unrealistic financial measures it is on me to travel back and forth for court. The father has filed many motions all of which were denied, trying to be a bully and make it appear as if I am doing wrong. I allow him daily communication with our child and he is always verbal aggressive and threatens to put me in jail. I am aware that I have followed our order as such but he is abusing the fact that I am out of state and his county still holds jurisdiction. Any advise on how to get it moved on my own?

    • HowardIken

      That is a difficult issue. One tactic would be a motion based on “inconvenient forum.” But that is sometimes a complex issue to argue in court.

  • Concerned

    My husband has primary residence (shared 50/50 custody) of his daughter. She is 13 (almost 14) now and has had battles with her mother because she does not want to go see her anymore (there are very legitimate reasons she does not want to go). The mother finally agreed. Since July, she has had NO overnight visits and only two dinners per month with her. During the past two and a half months, she has not seen the child at all because the child does not want to go. The mother has had limited text message contact with the child and no phone contact (the child has a cell phone which the mother can call or text her on any time day or night, but chooses to only text once every couple of weeks). How do we go about having the parenting plan changed to make it where the child does not have to see her mother unless she chooses to? We have looked at the normal parenting plan, long distance parenting plan and safety focused parenting plan and all of them seem to force us to give her mother some set time sharing, which is not in the best interest of the child or what the child wants. As a side note, the mother has my husbands email and phone number, as well as mine and has made no contact with either of us to try to see the child. Any ideas on how we can handle this situation?

    • HowardIken

      I doubt a judge will grant a modification that gives a child the absolute right to screen out one parent. You can always try. But it would be a rare circumstance if it is granted.

    • adjfire

      My kids also always argue that they dont want to go to their moms because of all the animal feces around the house and the garbage left all over the floor. She lives in a 1 bedroom place and 1 kid has to sleep with her and the other on the couch. I feel your pain but just like the gentleman said below courts will compel parents to fix themselves before excluding them. The best thing you can do is keep a detailed log book. Document all the events carefully. I even keep cell phone records and a log bog.

  • max

    Since my divorce, My x-wife’s family has spoken bad of me in front of my kids.!!
    Can I stop My kids from seeing their aunt, Who was a source of our problems
    even when we were married. we currently have 50/50 custody, And my x and
    The kids live in one of the x-sister in-law’s condo, Can I make My x-wife Move
    Because of all the Trash Talking The x sister in law does about me in front of my kids.?

    • HowardIken

      You can enforce the original order. That requires your ex to prevent that sort of behavior.

  • crystal

    My ex husband and I have 50/50 custody. I just found out that our 16 year old daughter sleeps in his bed because there is nowhere else for her to sleep. Is this grounds for modification? Don’t we both have to have her own private space?

    • HowardIken

      Yes. I believe that is completely inappropriate. Most judges would likely agree.

    • adjfire

      As a parent I would be appalled. My ex sleeps in her underwear in the living room with my minor son present. I immediately had a chat and fixed that.

  • adjfire

    I have custody of my two children who live with me and go to school in my county (1 minor and 1 who just turned 18 and will not graduate by the 19th Birthday). I agreed to let her keep the support if I could have the kids. I only agreed to pay child support so that I could get my kids out of an abusive environment (Documented through CPS and email traffic). I now want to get the support abated and modify the existing visitation order to disregard the grand mother on the kids moms side. The mom and I always have reasonable conversations about the kids and always reach agreements on education, medical and visitations. They kids (encouraged by us) have begun to repair their relationship with their grandmother and the 1st night they were with her they became completely disrespectful and they were encouraged to look up new schools for when they take me to court. Since being with me they have received immunizations, surgeries and many medical issues ignored by mom. Their grades have also improved dramatically tot he point where my failing daughter is now passing, my C student son is now in a college prep instead of a normal public school. This all happened during Christmas break where mom told them they do not have to come home on time IAW the court order that states we split Christmas break. They showered the kids with gifts and now the kids say they want to live down there. Their case was originally decided in Broward County (2005) Florida and now they have been in Duval County Florida for two years. Does the Jurisdiction move to Duval County where the kids and I live or does it stay in Broward County? This based one me filing first. Can mom just file because the kids want to live there? I feel their dramatic improvement in health, lack of CPS visits, phsycial abuse by the grandmother and much improving education strongly support them staying here with us.

    • adjfire

      Also mom lives in a 1 bedroom apartment and has one kid on the couch and the other in bed with her or both kids on the couch. I stated this was not consistent with good parenting values and she sent the kids to the grandmothers house rather than fixing her problem. Thats in addition to the information I gave above.

    • HowardIken

      Normally jurisdiction stays in the original county if either parent, or any of the kids still reside there. If no one resides in the original county the case may be moved.

  • USMC

    Can a children be moved out of state by an Extended Family Member if temporary custody has been granted with the consent of both parents? -OR- Does it require an additional Petition to Relocate or Relocation Agreement. The mother is a suspected substance abuser and the father is in another relationship out of state. Kids have moved 6 times in the last 5 months and have no stability. I live in northern VA and kids live in Polk county.

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    • HowardIken

      Good question. I do not believe we have ever addressed that. I do not believe there is a definite answer.

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  • Donna Twardokus Brown

    hi my niece had to go to jail and had to give her friend temp custody untill she got out of jail she has four kids well while she was locked up the father of two of the kids took off with them out of state they have never been married and her friends moved out of state and wont tell her were her kids are she wants her kids back what should she do

    • HowardIken

      She has to file for a child pickup order.

  • Laurie Stuart

    Hello, I have been divorced for 10 years now, I am raising my 12year old son on my own. My other three children are now over 18. My ex is behind on child support 91k. he only pays when we go to court and they make him pay a purge of 500.00 but he usually even gets out of that with his lame excuses. they do suspend his license as well. Anyway, I want to move me and my son to TN as soon as possible. I have very good reasons, better job opportunity, family support, and have a small home on parents property I can rent for half the cost im struggling to pay now. My son wants to go. His dad only visits him an average of 6 days per month, even though our divorce order gives him every other weekend and Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I am also taking online classes to complete my Bachelors degree in Accounting, my college has a campus in Knoxville and I would like to be closer to campus since I am going to be in college for another two years. The father has not had a job since left him in 2002, he said if I leave him he will not pay child support that he knows how to work the system. He also has past child abuse charges and battery charges. My question is does it look very likely that I will be granted permission to move out of state? I am saving up for a lawyer but I would just like to know if I have a shot. Thank you so much for your time.
    Laurie

    • HowardIken

      I think you have a very good shot. This sounds like one of the circumstances where relocation would be permitted.

      • Laurie Stuart

        Thank you so much…that gives me hope !!

  • jladams

    My daughter has been divorced for three years. Neither have any money, but ex-husband repeatedly sends angry texts, cursing my daughter and calling her swear words, because “she left him with all this debt, even though the debt is money he borrowed to start his chiropractic office. (these are kept for records). He tells my granddaughter that all of mother and grandparents are no good. He pays a child support thru the court, because he would never pay it without going thru the court. The total amount he pays is $175/mo. even though he is a chiropractor. He was in contempt of court, but the court did nothing.He thinks my daughter should pay for any clothes that are kept at his house and refuses to buy her clothes even when she outgrows them. They had a “mother-daughter tea” at school which was dress-up. My daughter sent a nice dress for her to wear, but he and his live in girlfriend would not let her wear it, saying she was being punished, so she was the only one at school in her uniform, while the rest were in dress-up. He refuses to let my daughter talk on the phone with granddaughter, even though it is a court mandated part of a parenting plan. The point of all this is that going to court is useless. I spent $25000 trying to get this resolved. That took 3 years to get a divorce and the abuse is still ongoing. My granddaughter is so afraid of him that she will not talk longer than a minute on the phone because he tells her to hang up. She tells us that when he is not around and to her councilor. The Florida courts are a useless bunch. The only ones who win are the lawyers.

  • febe feliciano

    What is the law regarding leaving the state of Florida when you are the primary custodial parent and share time only on weekends with thier dad?

  • Isaac Ike Velez

    at what age can a child make a decision that counts on which parent they want to live with
    in the state of florida

  • marcart

    I have a

  • marcart

    First let me thank you for the advice you freely give. I have a simple question. Is it reasonable for a husband who works out of the country 6 months out of the year to request a parenting plan that requires having his 14 year old child live with him the 6 months he is home?

  • hurtwife

    Hi! I stumbled across your forum by accident trying to find some answers toy dilemma. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!!

    My husband and I have been married 10 years. Married young. Started a family young. We hit a bump in the road and he had an affair. It was short lived. 2 years later, he was served with child support summons. We did a DNA test and the child is his. He had to go to child support court. When the order was given, the mother let us see the child a few times, and when she started receiving her child support, the visits completely stopped. She refused his requests for visits and refused to give him am address to go to court. Anytime he asks to see her the mother makes excuses about herself and why he can’t see the child. He has been trying for 5 years and has finally found her. What are his chances of winning visitation with this child considering he has never been a big part of his child’s life? Although he tried repeatedly and mother refused?

    • HowardIken

      His chances are excellent. The policy of Florida courts is to allow both parents to have an extensive relationship with their children.

  • Patty Foster

    My daughter’s ex was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to a years house arrest but was allowed to take his parents to church, the store and the doctor. He lost his job and refuses to find another. He took her back to court to stop child support and the judge agreed. She has sole custody of her son but he is off probation now and says he has every right to do whatever he wants with his son. He even went to his school and tried to pick him up without her authorization. He gave the school his email address and told them he is to be notified of all meetings, days off, etc. Does he have any rights?

    • HowardIken

      That depends on the terms of the divorce judgement. What does it say? If there never was a marriage – the terms of the paternity judgment govern. If there was no marriage and the only court case was for child support – he has no current rights.

      • Patty Foster

        They were married but divorced when he was convicted. She currently has full custody of her son. At one time, when they were in the courtroom discussing child support, he asked the judge for visitation. He was told he could see the child if he went through the court and saw him there. He never did and the people in charge of the court’s child visitation program sent a letter to the judge saying he made no attempt to see the child. He’s a bully who has her convinced his rights have been restored since probation has ended!

        • HowardIken

          Sounds like there is an existing order for supervised visitation. That defines his rights until he appears back in court.

  • MissingMySon

    My husband & I are currently going through a divorce. He filed a false injunction & took our son. The injunction, as well as, the mediation agreement laid out the visitation & phone call guidelines. He has not followed it at all. He hardly answers the phone, I call once a day, & he has not set up visitation as ordered & refuses to. It has been almost 2 years. I have been documenting everything. Will the fact that he has not complied with a court order, help my case with me getting custody?

    • HowardIken

      Yes, that will help – as long as you can prove it.

  • goodaunt

    I have POA of my 15 soon to be 16 year old niece for the past 6 months. Her mother (my sister) has parental rights but no custody (bad history including domestic and drug use) and my ex-brother in law is remarried and his current wife put hands on my niece and DCF STRONGLY suggested that he sign her over to me with a POA. He now is making Strong demands on the POA for the next 2 years (til shes 18) that I refuse to sign. Such as, I have to make sure she maintains a “C” average in school (because I have control over that) and I cant give him any financial demands and “no legal actions to be taken for financial reimbursement”. I have to ask him for permission to take her to any/all doctors appointments before doing so.
    I just asked him for custody so I can drop all these demands and take over proper care for her and put her on our insurance and just take financial responsibility for her without all the stress (he feels like my ex-husband, and not like we are doing him any favors) and of course he said NO.
    Do we or does my niece have any say or can we get granted any custody so the next few years I can focus on raising her and not my ex-brother in laws demands? Oh, let me finish with saying, he hasn’t contacted my niece in the whole 6 months she has been with us. She called him on Christmas and it was very brief on his end. Everything is about his wife when my niece talks to him.

    • HowardIken

      There is a provision in the Florida Statutes called Custody By An Extended Family Member. It sounds that may be best for your situation. But you will probably need to consult with an attorney first to get some guidance.

  • Ricky

    Is it against the law to leave your husband and the state of Florida with your child without the permission of your spouse if there is no court order of any type filed? Is this parental kidnapping ? I was advised that it was not.

    • HowardIken

      That is correct. It is not against the law.

      • Concerned

        Would it be illegal in the state of florida is the custodial parent leaves the state on vacation for a week when the court order dictates that the non custodial has the children for that spring break for that year. could this be considered parental kidnapping?

        • HowardIken

          Not parental kidnapping. But violation of a court order and possible contempt of court.

  • Lisa

    If I was recently awarded majority custody over my sign and my and his father are going through a divorce. He just recently took my son out of town to Texas without my knowledge or permission during his visitation days? is there anything I can do about this? Being that I have majority custody and I allow him to see his child the designated days throughout the week I would think I would need to grant permission before my child lives the state, correct?

    • HowardIken

      It really depends on what is in the last court order. But ultimately – you cannot dictate what he does with his parenting time as long as it is “reasonable.”

  • dadof4kids

    my ex lives in manatee county, flordia I have a court case on 2/26/15 she has not done anything that the court order her to do . .. I have done everything (parenting classes,parenting plan ) she recently put in that am not allowed to take my son out of the state of flordia for visit I live and work in south Carolina.. will the judge approve of this and will she get custody>>

    • dadof4kids

      I have not seen him in 10 years cause my ex moved him out of sc with out my knowin and has not allowed me to see or talk or take him

      • HowardIken

        There is no doubt that you will get parenting time with your child. That will include out of state travel.

        • dadof4kids

          will the judge do anything to her for not doing her parenting classes and parenting plan?? I was told by friends that have kids out of state they have gotten shared custody … is that possible in my case?? and thank you sooo much for answearing me ..

          • HowardIken

            The term “shared custody” can mean a lot of different things. I am not sure how to answer that. The other question depends on the judge. It also depends on what you say in the next hearing.

  • lisae

    My ex and I have equal parental responsibility. After my daughter informed me (10yo) she was required to take her bath with her sister and 2 brothers due to income issues, I phoned DCF to look into the issues. After that, the Father has sent emails refusing her extracuricular activities that she has been involved in for 3 years as well as not taking her to vision and dental appointments. He has refused to take any responsibility for our daughter although he requires the time sharring be done. He has been verbally abusive to our daughter and myself. He has demonstrated a lack of parental responsibility many times, all documented. My question is, due to his refusal (i did not list it all) to take parental responsibility seriouslly, can I obtain sole parental responsibility with a motion for contempt if evidence supports my claims and is seen as in the best interests of the child? Mind you, prior to the Final Judgment, the father had been arrested infront of the child and has had psychiartic issues requiring a hospital stay. He also has never emotionally supported her, never present for school awards or preformances or extracuricular activities. CAN I DO IT FROM A MOTION FOR CONTEMPT? I know I can file a modification request, but the motion for contempt is first. Thanks in advance.

    • HowardIken

      I am not sure I see a contemptible issue here. You can try. It won’t hurt. But I have my doubts.

  • Luciano Tavares

    Hi!
    My ex and I was never married but lived together since our daughter was born till her 8yrs old. We are from another country and we re separated for 7 yrs now. I never paid child support but always helped with her needs, school clothes, school books, and doctors.
    I got married 4 yrs ago and since then, I we pay for her health insurance, dentist,phone medical bills and whatever she asks but never gave her a dollar bill. Now she wants me to pay child support, my question is, all that i have being paying will counts? Can i ask for timeshare 50/50? anything under the law that can help me?

    • HowardIken

      It is unlikely you would get 50/50 timeshare after a seven year history of not following that pattern. Also, how would that work if you live in a different county? Yes, the money you spent counts. But you must be prepared to prove it. In any case the court can only go back in time 2 years for support issues pre-petition.

      • Luciano Tavares

        Thanks for your reply!
        I was always present in her life. Yeah I’m sure I will not get 5050 but I will try.. I do can prove I pay for all that. I just don’t know how to make her prove her real income since she clean houses and don’t pay tax for all she make.

  • mj

    At what age can a teen refuse to see the the other parent? I have been divorced since she was 5 (2003). She is now almost 17. She started refusing to see him on a regular basis when she was 14 (almost 15). He is mentally ill and has been abusive. I have known this for years. I went through the courts and DCF, to no avail, years ago to get his visitation revoked or at least modified. The state is now after him because he owes me $70k in child support (they are garnishing his wages) and he is having a fit, and says he is going to take me to court. I have made it clear he can come by and see her, call, or text anytime. (I have all this in texts to him). She wants nothing to do with him cause of some very bad abuse when she was little that she started remembering. Can they hold me in contempt because she refuses to see him?

    • HowardIken

      Yes and no. You need to follow the court order. But the courts tend to recognize that it is difficult to force a 17 yo.

  • MominP-Cola

    Was never married to the father, after 9 years we have separated. The step son molested our daughter when he was 12 and daughter 3. He was arrested. The step son is now 18 and still lives with the father. I want to get sole-custody because I am concerned about her being alone in that house. The father has the son pick her up from daycare without permission. The father was recently arrested for Insurance fraud, second time now a felony. I want sole custody because the father doesn’t have the ability to make the best choices where our daughter is concerned. I don’t even know where to start. What are my chances of getting sole custody based on what I have mentioned so far and what are my first steps.

    • HowardIken

      Sole custody is always a steep uphill battle. An arrest means nothing if the charges were dropped. So it depends on the later situation.

  • Menegren

    I live in Ma with my 3 children he lives still in FL & filed for divorce there. I was forced to be pro se & his lawyer drew up the marriage settlement agreement & in the jurisdiction portion it states that Massachusetts is the children’s home state for the purpose of the UCCJEA. He later falsely filed a contempt claiming I didn’t let him see the children. The judge then gave him temporary orders of full custody in order to make up for time sharing. My ex has done nothing with these papers except basically use them as his get out of jail free card to pay child support. He’s made zero effort to see let alone even contact the children. How long can he have these temporary orders with out doing anything. I know he has to file the papers at least in Massachusetts, not done. Is there a statute of limitations on these orders

    • HowardIken

      You really need to consult an attorney before you do anything more. I suspect you did not defend properly on jurisdiction issues. There is no statute of limitations on Florida court orders.

      • Menegren

        I have a pro bono attorney in Ma, Florida has been zero help… So temporary orders last forever ???

        • tm

          Im not an attorney, and Florida Judicial system has failed my children and me, but it seems, if your case is still open, you can file a Motion to Modify Time sharing (you can print the form online). If your case has been closed, pay to reopen it (I believe it is $50) and then File your Motion to Modify Time Sharing. That is really great you found someone to help you in MA, though I’m not sure without a license in FL, he/she can represent you. Again, Im not an attorney, I’ve only been representing myself for several years now. Look into that timesharing modification ;) good luck

          • HowardIken

            You cannot modify time sharing by Motion. That would require a supplemental petition.

        • HowardIken

          They do but not by intention. You probably do not want to sit on a temporary order for long.

  • John

    Howard,
    My fiancé has been served by her mother (the grandmother) for Temporary Custody of her two children. Fiance moved from one city in Florida to another in the same state about to live with her mother in March of 2014 when she lost her job. Mother offered to be a full time babysitter and give them a place to stay until fiancé got on her feet. They have had a rocky relationship for years, and In May fiancé’s mother kicked her out and told her she was no longer welcome. Fiance left children with grandmother until she figured out where she would be going and had a safe living situation for the kids. After a couple of weeks staying with a friend, I offered for Fiance to move out of state to stay with me and get on her feet here. Before leaving she gave her mother POA to make decisions on her behalf in her absence. In November her mother filed for temporary custody stating that Fiance moved out of state and left them in her care. Fiance made clear to mother before petition was filed that she intended to get her kids back in December because she had a job and was ready to move them with us. Mother still filed the petition in November because she objected to fiancé’s plans and attempted to thwart it. Fiance never received a summons or any official notification until February when we called the court in that county and requested the summons be sent via email. Upon receipt we found that summons was served at our old address as we recently moved in November. Now fiancé has sent off the proper response to the court and updated address to receive any further notifications. Yesterday we received a notice in the mail that a hearing is scheduled with the General Magistrate’s office in April 2015. With my fiancé having work now and a place to live should she have a good chance of her mother’s temporary custody being denied and the children returned to her or will this case likely be difficult because of the length of time she’s been away? Also will the fact that she is relocating the children out of state be an issue as well? The father who was recently released from jail on drug charges is also attempting to get the kids back now since he was served as well and likely saw this as an opportunity to gain custody since fiancé wasn’t able to respond at first due to the issues with getting served. Sorry for the long post, I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  • tm

    Good Evening Mr. Iken,
    My Ex, has filed for appeal in our paternity/custody case, an almost 7 year battle. We finally received a Final Judgment, but to no surprised, a Notice of Appeal was filed on the 30th day of the 30 days granted by the court to do so. He has hired an attorney who is arguing the court abused discretion; the Final Judgment was filed 12/31/14 and Initial trial with the last judge was 03/06/13. There were status hearing after the Trial and both the petitioner and myself wrote letters to the judge regularly to keep him abreast of the circumstances of our case. Also, in 2011 an INTERIM Final Judgment was filed. It was agreed in court, with a former judge, we would “try” the visitation the judge had ordered, though status hearings would be set to monitor the visitation success/failure. That judge ultimately switched venues . This happened twice. So we had to start from scratch 3 times with 3 different judges. Is there merit to the appeal request, since both petitioner and I kept in contact with the judge? Is there any case law that would support an extended period of time to make a ruling, allowing for one or the other of the parties to exercise a “trial” shared parenting schedule to determine its success? I cannot endure another 7 years of this torture. Thank you in advance for your help. TM

    • HowardIken

      Sorry but that is impossible to answer without a hundred hours of reading and research. Appeals are very complex. The good news: The vast majority of appeals are unsuccessful. The Abuse of Discretion Standard is the most difficult to win under an appeal.

  • LA

    Hello, Mr. Iken, I have a 5 year old special needs daughter. My ex-husband and I have equal custody. He also cannot hold a job. His way of proving that he is continually looking for a job is by applying for jobs that he will never get. I do not make enough money to cover all of my daughter’s special needs on my own even though I am currently trying to cover everything. Furthermore, my real concern is that he could file for child support to cover his costs. This would mean that I would have to stop providing her with the therapies and other supplements that she needs. Is there a way to show that paying for him would really hurt her instead of help her? Or, would I just be required to pay child support? Thank you so much for your time.

  • Wade

    been divorced for almost 2 years, no child support, no alimony, 50/50 split custody in a divorce agreement. my 16 1/2 year old son wants to live with me. he is basically refusing to get into a car with her but is willing to discuss other visitation arrangements. i have encouraged him to continue to visit his mother as the agreement says. he refuses. can i be held in contempt of court if he stays with me? He has very good reasons he wants to live with me, mom lives 60 miles from school, mom’s boyfriend moved in with his 8 year old daughter, etc.

    • HowardIken

      This is a difficult issue. The courts will generally require a parent to “facilitate” parenting time with the other parent. But most judges take a practical view – that a 16 or 17 year old is difficult to force. This whole issue will depend on the personal viewpoints of your judge.

  • Jules

    Hi Mr. Iken, I have a 13 year old daughter and a 9 year old son. My ex and I have been separated for 5years now and have adapted the standard visitation schedule, he gets them 1 week night and every other weekend. About 8 months ago my daughter stopped wanting to go see her dad, at first I thought it was a phase but things have gotten worst and she refuses to go to the point where she gets hysterical and argues with her dad. she assures me that he hasn’t done anything to her but she doesn’t like to stay with him because he doesn’t have a comfortable place for her and my son to stay, she wants to see him but not sleep over; he doesn’t agree and then they fight which makes her not want to go. what can I do, can this be used against me in court? we are in the process of a divorce and he wants to have the kids one week him and one week me. I don’t agree, I think this will disturb the routine we have established, the separation was hard for them and now they have adjusted, im afraid that the change in routine will be hard on them again.

    • HowardIken

      Sometimes it can count against you. As the primary parent you have the duty to facilitate his parenting time. But many judges recognize the issues with teenagers. If there are resources available, the judge may want to order a guardian ad litem or an attorney ad litem to assist with diagnosing the parenting issues.

    • Parent Who Cares

      If you’re afraid week to week will disturb the kids routine, why don’t you keep it the same, just flip it so you only have them one weeknight and every other weekend? As a bonus, more time with Dad would resolve your daughter’s reticence as well.

  • StressedMom

    Hello. My ex husband and I are divorced. I did remarry. He moved 2 hours away from his daughter and is complaining about his commute which to me is his own fault not mine. Originally i had agreed he would have weekends with our daughter she was with me during the week( this was when he was living 5 min away we agreed on this in court, and again has since moved 2 hours away). He has moved in with his girlfriend and she has seemly been butting her nose where it doesnt belong when it comes to our child and she even convinced him to go speak with an attorney. I have had major issues with not being able to spend time with my daughter on weekends. I work during the week full time and she is in school. He does not allow our daughter to go to her friends birthday parties, spend any time with her friends. It is really upsetting her and myself. Not only that, he has no job, he steals from his parents, he has records up the wazoo which he has put our daughter in danger by speeding and driving numerous times on a suspended license with her in his car. He was recently arrested for it. He was also kicked out of the military with a mental disorder. I dont feel he is stable enough to have our daughter and I dont feel his girlfriend is either. She is now trying to convince him to take my time away so she can have more time with my daughter. My daughter has also told me they never bathe her while she is with them. My daughter has an amazing school she is stable under my roof has food on the table everything. She is doing great. My question is, if i motion the parenting plan asking for full parental rights in making the decisions for my daughter and whats in her best interest along with asking that he only gets our daughter every other weekend instead of every, do I stand a good chance in getting awarded that? It would be nice to be able to take my daughter to disney and spend quality time with her along with allowing her to see her friends and go to their parties. I need some advice this has been stressing me out so much.

    • HowardIken

      First – you cannot change the court order by motion. You must file a Supplemental Petition to Modify. A parenting plan modification such as this is a steep uphill battle for you. It can also go against you. With that said …. there may be enough here for a potential modification.

      • StressedMom

        I meant supplimental motion. I have all the paperwork to file in the court. He can not even put food in the house he continues to go to his parents to pay for everything because he and his girlfriend can not afford their bills and such. Which worries me as well. He is never involved with our daughters activities, taking her to the doctor, nothing. And he never communicates with me regarding our daughter. I just hope something can be done.

  • buffalocalzone

    well here’s a question- My 15 year old daughter(who will be 16 in June) we live in the state of Florida- her Mother is like Cinderellas step mother, Grounding her constantly, making her clean all weekend, scrubbing Grout with a toothbrush, basically keeping her locked up like a prisoner, Now spring break comes along, her mother says she took off work so she can go to the beach with my daughter, problem was my daughter had plans to go to the beach with her friends, mother was upset- Grounded her for the WHOLE spring break, and Grounding her from going to her Fathers(me) house at any point during spring break, needless to say this boiled over into a fight were her mother slapped her, my daughters called my crying histarically , terrified and then the Mother called and told me to “take my disgusting daughter out of her house” to come get her and all her things and TAKE HER OUT OF HER HOUSE- so…….. as a concerned father i flew over there and took her home with me (11 miles away) am i at Right to keep my daughter with me as long as i feel is necessary from such a volatile and mood swinging mother who constantly Grounds her from Family, Friends etc, over Nothing? and keeps my daughter locked up in the house? what is a Father to do? we never went to court, we;ve always had a civil relationship, but now she is taking this to a totally new level of insanity

    • HowardIken

      It sounds like the change is by agreement. So there is nothing wrong with it. At almost 16, it is a call decision whether a modification will be worth it. Hopefully you are not required to pay support while you have her. If the answer is yes, that may be a good reason for a modification case.

      • buffalocalzone

        Exactly Howard- it is/was by agreement- as well as child support- WE never went to court, i stayed in my daughters Life since she was born, it just recently became an issue of the Mother and teenage daughter, going toe to toe for the last year and a half, and the Mother has repeatedly threatened to throw her out, but this time was scary and irrational on the Mothers part, i appreciate your response it was very helpful- thank you so much

        • Parent Who Cares

          Please keep your eyes wide open and your brain in high gear. 15 year old’s are extremely manipulative. If they can find a weak spot, they will use it to get whatever they want, which may not actually be what is best for them.

          • buffalocalzone

            i understand that- but she is/was in a very Hostile environment, and i know it is not all her, i’ve seen her mother mentally abuse her for years, my main concern was her running away- at least i know where she is- bit thank you for your advise- i greatly appreciate it

  • M. J.

    I am an English mother with children whose father resides in Florida. We have lived in England for 8 years and during that time, their father has visited England a couple of times (for under a week on each occasion). He now wants me to bring the children to visit him in America. I am worried that he will refuse to give them back. Where do I stand with regards to Florida laws?

    • HowardIken

      I assume you have a final judgment from a Florida court? Or an English court? Each country respects the judicial orders of the other.

      • M. J.

        The divorce and custody went through the Florida courts.

        • HowardIken

          Florida will definitely enforce a pickup order for the children if issued by the English courts.

  • CF

    I have a question. I have 3 nieces. The oldest is 13 the middle child is 11 and the youngest is 7. Their mother has full custody of the children since the youngest was 2. The father is court ordered to pay child suppirt and he does that. In December the mother was in an accident due to drinking and driving . I was called to come get them. They have been residing in my home since December 17 2014 till today March 26 2015. Their father was still paying child support and paying me child care at the same time to care for his children. The mother has been better since Jan and have been able to care for herself and her children but kept givingreason why the children could not come home. So their father went to child support and asked if child support can be dismissed until the girls move back in with their mother back in jan. Child support stopped allpayments just last week. Now that the mother foundhas not received child support she came today and got the children. Now with all that being said while I was caring for the children and their mother still at this point receiving child support to care for the children, she has not offered a dime. Which we never asked but the father was very upset about this. The children DO NOT want to live with their mother for many reasons. The step father whoops them , They claim to see their mother use certain drugs which is coming from the 13 yr old and the 11 yr old. We don’t know for sure. They claim to not have cooked meals Everynight and I have seen their home dog poop and trash everywhere. Which Dcf does not see unfit. So in this situation what can be done?

    • HowardIken

      Most likely, the time window to change everything has closed. Now that mom has picked up the kids she has “fixed” the situation.

  • Diane

    I have a question. I am a single mother of two and one on the way, due to me believing he wanted the family back ended up with the one on the way. He does not claim the baby coming, but the other two are 2yrs and 11 months we split when the youngest was 3 months old and he has not taken the youngest at all and the oldest he has only had about 5 times for 4-6hrs each. He has a daughter from his previous marriage (we were not married) that he has 50/50 custody of but on his time he never has her his parents do. Will that situation help me in custody any? Do I have the right to hold the youngest child from him due to him not knowing his father really and him not knowing the care he needs or has any of the things he needs to provide for him? Also can I hold the kids from spending the night there since they have not since we left? Also if he takes the youngest and has his new g/f that he left the family for take care of him when she herself has never met my son can i deny him to take him since he himself would not be providing the care for him? Also he has only been giving me about $250-$300 a month in child support. I need advice since he is out of no where trying to take his son when i told him that he can not due to it being uncomfortable to my son and that it is not someone elses responsibility to take care of him. Please need advice!!!!

    • Diane

      He also is saying because of me is why the kids dont really know him or why he never gets them or sees them, but he has passed by the house to go somewhere else plenty of times and I know that since we split he takes more days off since he owns his own business and he could easily be spending the times with his kids every time he has asked for the oldest I say ok I have never said no but he has never asked for the youngest until this week. I also know his business is getting bigger and I have seen customers since the split telling me that they don’t see him anymore. In him owning his own business I know a lot of his expenses are not business related I do not know if he is taking out cash and hiding it now I wouldn’t be surprised but at first it is all on bank records of bars after bars. Does this help me any as well with child support or custody? Also how far from him am I legally allowed to move and right now since there is not custody in legal form does he have the right to tell me the kids can and cannot go to this daycare or that daycare?
      Thank You

      • HowardIken

        Before paternity is legally established you have the right to move at will. He may have future rights but those rights are almost completely undefined.

  • Aunt Who Cares

    My brother’s divorce was final Sept 2014 and a parenting plan was put in place in which the 3 boys live Fri to Fri with each parent, but my brother has right of first refusal. The boys are ages 12 (tomorrow) 9 and 6. Since December the oldest child has REFUSED to go with his mother because of the things she has done to his dad. The mother has said she is going to go to court to MAKE my nephew go with her. If this should happen does my nephew have any rights? The boys were not involved in the courts for the divorce because of all the trauma they had gone through dealing with the breakup of the family. Both parents felt that it was too much for them to be in court. Now that my nephew is in Middle School he is much more vocal about his feelings. He explained to his mother about why he doesn’t want to have 2 anything to do with her. She told him she didn’t have time to discuss that. For the past several months he has stayed with my brother while the other two boys go as written in the parenting plan. I want to advocate for my nephews as I have a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. This whole ordeal has been horrible for them. I am horrified and beyond angry at the counseling the family received while this whole thing was going on. What can we do to protect these boys??

    • HowardIken

      Kids that age cannot refuse to spend time with either parent. This may put your brother in a difficult situation with the court. As you are probably aware, you have a built in conflict and cannot give input to the court. But if this is really important then another qualified professional will be required to testify in a possible modification case.

    • Parent Who Cares

      Why does a 12 year old child know about “things she has done to his dad” ??? Your brother may want to rethink what he is sharing and what damage it may be doing to his children. Research Parental Alienation. It’s child abuse. With your degree in Marriage and Family Therapy I’m shocked you do not know this already.

  • Xenthora

    My boyfriend has recently filed a petition to change the time sharing plan that was previously ordered by a judge in his dissolution of marriage. The current plan does not give any specific guidelines to when or for how long he gets to see his son, except to say that he gets to have him on Thanksgiving and father’s day every year. When they can not agree, the original document gives her the ultimate decision making authority. His ex is erratic at best with visitation and withholding at other times, not allowing him to see his son for the entire summer having sent him to her native country. He told her ahead of time of his intent to file, and since the filing she has started trying to impose rules simply because she can. Almost every time he has gotten to stay the night, we have kept him though Sunday night and taken him to school on Monday. Also, too ensure visitation, when he is given a night or weekend I have been picking his son up from school. Now, she is saying that Florida law says he has to be at home on Sunday by a certain time and she has taken me off the pick-up list to make it nearly impossible for us to get him from school. Are these things we simply have to deal with until he gets his day in court, or does he have some kind of rights here that are being over looked?

    • HowardIken

      It sounds like he has an extremely poorly written settlement agreement (or prior ordered parenting plan). There is no Florida law about being home on Sunday. Unfortunately the only remedy will be to pursue the modification case.

  • Stressed Prego Mommy

    I have sole legal custody of my two kids, ages 9 and 8, we live in Fl and my ex lives in Ok. Their dad was given every other school holiday and 3 weeks of time in the summer to be mutually agreed upon by us. This was all granted in Dec. 2013, adopted from the mediators recommendation because he did not follow through on anything she asked him to do and due to the fact that he had never exercised the full time share that he had been previously granted. I have not stopped him from having any of his time, have let him come to Fl to have time with the kids even when he did not give me 14 days written notice as stated in our paper work and have tried to work out what works best for everyone for summer visits. He was supposed to get married for the 4th time this June but it was just announced on Facebook that they are postponing the wedding because I would not agree to give them the entire summer (after they already told the children they were going to be there for the whole summer), followed by me being called disrespectful names and “trashed” for friends and family to see. Their wedding was to be two weeks after my due date (in a high risk pregnancy) and I was still trying to work with them to get the kids out there for the wedding. They are now saying they are going to take me back to court for full summers with the kids and he is trying to black mail me into making a snap decision. He doesn’t have an actual job, he works for different farmers around them for cash under the table, he gets VA disability but that was taken because he never turned in our divorce papers and he was getting paid for me being his spouse for 4 years after our divorce, he is most likely facing another surgery, this time to fuse disks in his neck, they recently just moved into another place, child support has never been stable and he is bi-polar and usually gets like this when he is on a manic high. He also has two other children, one with this fiancee that was born last year and a 6 year old that he has zero custody of. My husband has a steady job, I am a nurse but get to be a stay at home mom right now, they are both in Scouts (which both have occasional summer activities) and are both in gymnastics. They also have a step brother who they would rarely get to spend time with now if he were to be granted full summers. Would a judge consider changing our agreement already and give him what he’s asking when he’s still quiet unstable?

    • HowardIken

      Everything is possible. But based on your quick list of facts – I doubt there will be a modification.

  • mj

    I was divorced in 2010 and we have shared parenting that gives my ex residential for school and government purposes only. We have a very detailed parenting plan that states that we should make all decisions toeather including education, religion, and so on but if we can not reach a mutual decision then the parent who has the children during their parent time makes the final decision. My problem is he always seems to try to not include me in any decision making as far as school or medical and he makes the kids feel that even when they are with me they must get his approval. Now he is denying me pick up on my scheduled parenting time even when the police have contacted him requesting him to release the kids due to court order. He takes off from his residence prior to my pick up time making the children unavalible. He controls all contact I have even taking the kids cell phones and chargers away and now he is even saying I cant talk to the kids in the eveings when are parenting plan clearly states you can not deniy communicaton and the kids must be avaliable daily for at least 15 min contact with other parent. He seems to just keep getting away with disregarding the court order and his fiance seems to have more rigthts to our children then I do. he works out of town a lot and they are left with her and I feel this is unfare since I am the mother. I am just lost and want to have fare and equal time with my children and I thought that was what the court order was to provide but he walks right through it. it just isnt fare my kids are heart broken

    • HowardIken

      You need to immediately file a Motion for Contempt. The order will not do anything for you if you do not aggressively enforce the terms.

      • concerned

        In 2008 I entered a 30 day rehab. I was living with my ex at his parents house at the time with our 5 year old daugher. We were not married. During my stay in rehab, my ex took me to court and I while in rehab, signed over custody of my daughter. I was given a parenting plan where I was awarded visitation, ect. After I got out of rehab, I never returned to my ex, or his parents house. He over the years was in and out of jail, and I was only allowed to see my daughter whenever he let me, and normally I would have to pay in some way.This was always controlled by him or his Mom. My daughter was being taken care of by his parents and for that I am grateful. She is in a good school, enviroment ect. In 2013 I married a wonderful man who is very supportive of me. I have been substance free, employed and I respect myself today. I wasnt financially able in the past to do anything, but with my husbands support, I am now. I was given a home phone to call and it is normally hit or miss if I am able to talk to her, they would not give me her cell phone number. She has told me that she would like to spend more time with me. I love my daughter and I know that she loves me… I am not looking to unearth or shake things up, I would just like to be able for my daughter to become a part of my life. My ex presently lives with his parents…unemployed ect, and his Mom doesnt want anything to do with me, she controls that house.I think that my ex still has custody in that I dont think that his Mom has custody ? Can someone please help ?

  • Don

    My ex refuses to follow the basic every other weekend, holidays and splitting holidays and summer timeshare. She has my 12 and 14 year old daughters constantly in sports throughout the year. She deneys regular timeshare as agreed on a regular basis and acts unilateral in all parenting decisions. She is basically on the verge of looking like the template for parental alienation syndrome. Our agreement was decided 10 minutes before trial and then verbally documented in court by the court reporter. My EX refused to cooperate in a proper MSA and the agreement was submitted to the judge a a verbal agreement. It was ratified by the judge. My Ex treats the agreement and myself as a non issue and continues to act unilaterally on a continuing basis. Do I file a motion for a motion for contempt/enforcement in timesharing or petition for modification in reference to making parenting decisions concerning school (grades are bad) and sports? Maybe a combination of both?

    • HowardIken

      Maybe a combination. But it sounds to me like a possible need for a Motion for Clarification. You have an interpretation issue if the agreement is not in a proper written form. You may be able to do all simutaneously.

      • Don

        Thank you.

  • michii90

    My son’s father and I were never married. We broke up end of November 2012, he moved out in the beginning of January 2013. My son has lived with me ever since. I have been trying for child support since we split. Well he was supposed to start paying $351.94 as of 01/01/2015 established by CSE officials. I have only received roughly $125, all in March. We never went to court for custody, who is he legal guardian until guardianship and visitation is established by the courts?

    • http://www.myfloridalaw.com Attorney Howard Iken

      You have all the rights until he establishes his rights through the courts.

  • Kat

    My daughter has 2 boys. Her ex has been in jail most of the past 4 years. He didn’t contact the boys in any way while he was in jail. My daughter had a 3rd son that was killed in an accident. He was 14 at the time. He took his dad to court because he was afraid of his dad for good reasons. He didn’t want to spent any time with his dad. His dad threw him across a room hitting the wall because he was trying to keep his dad from getting a gun. His dad had said he was going to kill him self. This was just one time he said that of many other times. He has put a gun in his mouth in front of the boys. He has been baker-acted 5 times. He hit his wife. Was in jail for it. He has broke into my daughters house and he has told her he would kill her. All of this was before he went to jail. Now he has taken her to court to see his kids. He lied to the judge about things while in court. The boys are 11 and 14 but will be 12 and 15 this year. They are afraid of their father. They do not want anything to do with him. The judge gave him supervised visits with the boys. My daughter has taken them 4 times and he didn’t show up but yet he showed up at their ball game. Now he is saying that he didn’t know he was suppose to go once a week so they (Family Services)are giving him another chance. The boys said they will not get out of the car. After court the last time he was told not to approach his son until his visitation time. As soon as he walked out of the court room he walked up to my grandson. He has driven past their house and has stopped and knocked on the door trying to get his oldest son to come outside. He knew at the time my grandson was home alone. This man hit his own mother at 18 or 19 years old and she had him arrested. The boys don’t want to see their dad. Their dad is a big man of 6’2 with the weight behind him. He is mad at his oldest son because he told his dad to leave him alone and that he don’t want to spend any time with him. Where are the laws to help my grandsons? The things this man has done I am afraid for my daughter and grandsons. He is the type that would hurt them or worst. These things are just a small part of what this man has done. He is also behind in child support $80,000. I helped my daughter till I went thru all my saving which was for my retirement. He had the money to pay but he spend it on himself for fun. Are there any laws that we can bring up in court to use so my grandsons don’t have to see their dad? My grandsons have been thru so much for such a young age. I want to help them and my daughter.By the way, he has a little girl by another woman who got killed. He lost her to the little girls mother’s parents.

    • http://www.myfloridalaw.com Attorney Howard Iken

      This sounds like a situation for Dependency Court. That is the process that begins when you call the child abuse hotline 800-96-abuse

  • Leigh Paul

    My husband and I have moved out of the country permanently, for his job. We have moved to an island in the Caribbean, where he grew up, and is now working in the family business. His ex will not allow our 11 year old stepdaughter to visit us, without her (and her husband) coming along. This meant that she had to come to our wedding, and is now trying to come on our family vacation to another island this summer. I would like to clarify that we don’t want our stepdaughter traveling alone, my husband has offered to fly up and get her, and fly her back. We have also offered to pay for her grandmother (who his ex knows well, and with whom she stays with frequently) to fly with her. The ex has refused both of these options. As is, we only see her a couple times a year, a week at a time, when we can get away from work and fly to florida to be with her. This is far less than the time sharing my husband has been granted. In fact, his ex does not really stick to the timesharing at all. We just want our daughter to be able to come to us and experience our home as her own. Thoughts?

    • http://www.myfloridalaw.com Attorney Howard Iken

      Most judges are ok with an airline chaperone. I have never seen a judge force a parent to pay for unrelated adults to fly all over the place. You need to reopen the case for enforcement. I suspect it will end some of the nonsense.

  • Mom desperate to help daughter

    My daughter is 8. She and her adoptive father never had a relationship prior to him walking out on us when she was 4. The courts ordered us the standard she lives with me, and he has parent sharing time one week night for dinner, and every other weekend, splitting holiday, and switching back and forth all summer. Since my daughter was four she literally has panic attacks starting a few days before having to go to her dads, up to that day, then full on crying fits. Even at age 8 she is still an emotional wreck. She cries, and pleads, and begs me to not send her. I know legally I can’t do that. She woke up in the middle of the night tonight screaming and crying, please don’t make me go. Can’t you call him and ask him to let me stay home? Her therapist is aware of her fear of her father, and her feeling of being unwanted, and her not liking to go. She is an emotional wreck, and I am terrified, she will at some point start self medicating, or even cutting as she gets older and is forced legally to go. Why can’t a child that is this emotionally distraught about going, make a choice? It’s affecting her health, her sleep, and schooling. I feel totally helpless as her mother, not being able to protect her, and help her. I’ve been talking her through this for a long time, and it’s still getting worse. She doesn’t understand why she has no choice. She wants to be with me, sleep in her own bed, in her own house, and not go back and forth, and feel like a guest at her father’s home. God help me, is there anything I can do for her? She is terrified of him, but I have nothing but her emotional break downs, anxiety attacks, and fear to ask a judge for a modification. She just feels unloved and unsafe there. Is there anything at all I can do? Her therapist says she can emancipate herself from him at 16, but 8 more years of this, and this child will be emotionally distraught for sure. She is also so afraid of him she is just compliant and never gets in trouble. So she is learning it’s okay for people to treat you badly, and just be happy about it because it’s safer. I don’t want that setting up her future relationships as well. Desperate for some direction to help save my daughter. Please tell me what I can do to protect her well-being!

    • http://www.myfloridalaw.com Attorney Howard Iken

      These are difficult cases. On one hand the courts require someone in your position to foster the relationship with the other parent. On the other hand you cannot easily control the emotions of a child. There is no easy answer. You may make things worse by creating a spotty visitation opportunity for the other parent.

    • Another desperate mom

      Why is this therapist not helping? I know why some don’t…I have had one therapist quit, who clearly told me that she was afraid of being sued by the father if she told the truth and another quit because she didn’t want to be involved in legal proceedings, initiated by the father, leaving my child without anyone in a position to help.

  • Heather

    The father of my children moved to Illinois from Florida in 2007. He came back for a short period (less than three months) and then left us again, in 2009 moving back to Illinois, leaving us on our own in Florida. I opened a child support case against him and he has paid off and on over the past 6 years. I can count on one hand the amount of visits he’s paid the children but now that he’s married, he wants the children for three weeks this summer. They don’t know him very well and we don’t know his family up there AT ALL. I believe his father, the children’s grandfather has records for assault on his wife, theft charges from prior companies he’s worked for and drug use. I want my children to have a relationship with their dad but not in an unsafe – DISTANT environment. What can I do?

  • Kathy

    My daughter’s father is military, we reside in Florida, he states he has Temporary Duty Orders that took him away from home to Washington D.C, (he has custody), however he then emailed me stating he is moving to Groton Connecticut and wants to move our daughter there. He never gave me a copy of his orders saying he is on Temporary Duty and said he is not coming back to Florida which leaves me with the impression that his Orders are not TDY. He has left my daughter with the step mother and said she will be designated time sharing on his behalf. I understand that this must be given 10 day prior to the commence of his time and its for Temporary Duty, however he has already left the state. His wife plans on leaving around June 25th to move. He is not coming back. What are my options? Can I go pick my daughter up or do I need to get a temporary order?