Visitation Disputes

Sad boy with arms folded while parents quarreling in the kitchenVisitation is agreed to and established by the parties or the court at the time of the Final Judgment of dissolution of marriage by virtue of the marital settlement agreement and parenting plan which the parties sign and which are incorporated into the Final Judgment. These agreements will customarily have enforcement provisions in them.

Examples of such provisions are:

  1. prohibiting the removal of the child from the state or country without written permission from the other parent;
  2. requiring notarized written permission from both parents or a court order or both to allow a child to leave the country;
  3. prohibiting the removal of the child to a country which has not ratified or acceded to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction or without obtaining written permission of the other parent;
  4. requiring surrender of the child’s passport;
  5. requiring the posting of a bond or other security. F.S. 61.45 contains detailed provisions on these issues and the conditions under which a court will allow them.

If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute……

  • The court can enforce the provisions of the agreement by contempt. Generally, it is improper to withhold child support or alimony as a sanction for failure to honor visitation agreements. It is also improper to modify a time sharing agreement solely as a sanction for contempt.F.S. 61.13(4)(c) contains other remedies if visitation agreements are not honored, such as:
  • The court can award compensatory time to the nonoffending party.The court can award attorneys fees and costs to the nonoffending party.The court can order the offending party to attend a parenting class.
  • The court can order the offending party to perform community service.
  • the court can order the offending parent to bear the financial burden of time sharing if the parent and child live more than 60 miles apart from the other parent.
  • On the request of the nonoffending parent the court can modify the parenting plan if it is in the best interest of the child.
  • The court can impose “another reasonable sanction”

The remedy of Habeas Corpus may be available to seek the return of a missing child and as a remedy for violation of visitation agreements. The proper venue for such a proceeding is in the county where the child is being detained or wrongfully withheld. This is an extraordinary remedy and you must seek the advice of an attorney on this issue.

If your child is missing, you may be eligible to use the parent Locator Service offered by state of Florida Department of Revenue under the Child Support Enforcement Program. See F.S. 409.2577 SEE ALSO 48 USC 653. There is an application fee for parents not receiving public assistance.

There is also a service offered by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) through which the public can verify whether someone is in the military.The link is: www.dmdc.osd.mil/scra/owa/home. Each branch of the armed services, except for the army, can also be contacted to determine if the person is on active duty. The army locator service is only available to active duty personnel.