Interference with Child Custody in Florida
The State of Florida prevents an ex-spouse or partner from interfering with the allotted parenting time of the other. Parents who violate these orders could potentially face contempt charges, or worse, the judge may change the custody arrangement.
With so much at stake, it is important for those who have been unfairly accused of interfering with an ex-spouse’s time with their child—or whose ex-spouse is making it impossible to comply with their own time-sharing arrangement—to speak with an experienced visitation rights attorney who can help protect their interests.
Interfering with Parenting Time
Under Florida Statute 787.03(1), Interference with Child Custody is a crime committed when one parent unlawfully interferes with the other parent or guardian who has custodial rights. Complications that come up because of everyday issues can also impact parents from complying with court-ordered custody agreements.
Direct vs. Indirect Interference
How a parent goes about interfering with their child’s custody or visitation time often involves direct or indirect interference by one or both spouses. Generally, intentional interference, such as causing parental alienation syndrome in a child, is more serious than unintentional interference.
Indirect interference is more common and often involves unintended disruption of a parenting time agreement. This typically occurs because of poor communication between the parties or an oversight. Other instances that could unintentionally interfere with the other parent’s time with their child could involve being unable to afford transportation or forgetting to make an ex-spouse aware of a child’s extracurricular activities or school functions. Even when unintentional, these indirect interferences can still hurt your child and should be avoided as much as possible.
Custodial Interference Is Illegal in Florida
When one parent partakes in custodial interference, they are committing a crime and can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Custodial interference is punishable by jail time, but actual penalties and consequences are on a case-by-case basis.
It is important to know that custodial interference might escalate to a parental kidnapping charge depending upon the specifics. The courts will make custody arrangements that are for the child’s best interests, and any deviation from that plan without prior approval or modification from the court could harm the child’s future.
Additional Ways Parents Interfere with Each Other’s Parenting Time
Custodial interference includes more than just refusing to let the other parent see their child. If a parent feels they are protecting their child from danger by keeping the child away from the other parent, they may not be prosecuted depending on the facts of that case.
Generally, a parent who commits any of the below acts of interference may be violating a custody order:
- Visiting the child when it is not your turn to have custody
- Influencing the child against the other parent
Whether the interference is direct or indirect, the at-fault party could be held in contempt of court, which could involve jail time and hefty fines. Fortunately, it is possible to avoid contempt of court charges by arranging for make-up time to compensate the other parent for a lack of visitation, voluntarily attending counseling, or paying all fines and fees. However, if a party is held in contempt of court, a judge could order that a parenting time arrangement be either temporarily or permanently modified.
Speak with Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney About Your Case
If you are facing charges of interfering with your ex-spouse or partner’s parenting time and feel you have a good reason, it is critical to consult with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney at The Umansky Law Firm. There’s no better place to turn than the attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm. With more than 100 years of combined experience, our trusted legal team understands that when a child’s wellbeing may be in danger, you as a parent felt the need to do whatever possible to protect them from further harm.
Speak with an attorney today and don’t let your life be defined by a single mistake. Call our office or contact us online.