Can My Ex-Spouse Take My Children from Me or Deny Visitation?
While many divorced and separated parents realize the importance of putting their children’s needs first, others fail to put their difference aside. When you share custody of your children, maintaining a hostile relationship with your ex-spouse is not good for anyone.
Often, couples reach out to an Orlando child custody attorney to help them work out a mutually acceptable timesharing arrangement. However, disagreements and conflicts may arise regardless of whether there is a child custody order in place or not.
Can One Parent Deny Visitation to the Other in Florida?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for divorced parents to take children away from their ex-spouse in violation of the custody order or refuse to let the other parent see their kids. But can your ex-spouse take your children from you or deny visitation? Unless denying visitation is necessary to protect the child’s safety, doing so is not legal in Florida.
Florida family law addresses various situations in which one parent limits their former spouse’s ability to see the kids. Luckily, there are ways to protect your parental rights to your children if your ex-spouse won’t let you see the kids.
When Can a Parent Refuse to Let the Other Parent See Their Children?
The Florida Statutes Section 61.13 provides that a child must have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents,” which is why the state’s courts prefer timesharing arrangements in which both parents are involved in the child’s life.
However, the court will consider a variety of other factors to ensure that the timesharing plan is in the child’s best interests. A parent can lawfully refuse to let their ex-spouse see their children when they can prove that the other parent has:
- A criminal history or is hanging out with known felons;
- A drug or alcohol problem and is refusing to get professional help;
- A history of mental health problems; and
- A history of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence.
In order for any of the above-mentioned factors to be considered by the court, a parent must demonstrate evidence to prove that the other parent could endanger the child. However, groundless accusations will not be tolerated by the court, which is why the accusing parent must be able to show solid and sufficient proof that the other parent poses a danger to their children in order to lawfully take the kids from the accused parent.
Protecting Yourself from Parental Interference
Under Florida law, parental interference occurs when one parent disrupts the custody order or timesharing plan. Your former spouse may refuse to return the child, deny visitation, or otherwise limit your ability to see the kids. In addition, the other parent may attempt to turn your child against you through different forms of parental alienation:
- Forcing the child to choose between him/her and you
- Badmouthing you in front of the child
- Putting the blame for divorce or any financial problems on you
- Overindulging the child to interfere with your visitation
If you notice any of these signs of parental interference or alienation, do not hesitate to consult with an Orlando family law attorney to request a modification of the timesharing plan. In some cases, the judge may limit or even terminate the parental rights of the parent who engages in parental interference or alienation in Florida. Contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., to get a case review about your particular case. Call at 407-521-7171.