Child visitation is a right granted by a court to the non-custodial parent as part of a divorce proceeding. Visitation may also be granted to persons other than a parent. Recently, Florida passed a law suggesting a visitation schedule and reinforcing that any visitation schedule proposed by parents must also be in the ‘best interests of the child’ or children. The goal in Florida is to help children make the best of a bad situation and encourage parents to find a way to put aside their differences in order to raise healthy kids.
At The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale child visitation attorney emphasizes practical solutions that promote cooperation while helping children benefit from time with both parents.
Florida Law on Child Visitation
Florida refers to child visitation as ‘time-sharing’. Parents are encouraged to create a workable plan where each is able to spend time with their child or children. If parents are not able to come up with a workable plan on their own, Florida has conveniently created one for them.
In 2018, the Florida legislature passed a law addressing parental visitation known as the Standard Parenting Time Plan. The plan proposes the following schedule of visitation for the non-custodial parent.
- Every other weekend – from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday
- One evening per week – from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. or as agreed
- Thanksgiving break – in even-numbered years – from 6 p.m. the Wednesday before to 6 p.m. the Saturday after
- Winter break – in odd-numbered years, the first half of winter break – begins when a child is released from school before Christmas and ends at noon on December 26 – in even-numbered years, the second half of winter break – begins at noon on December 26 and ends at 6 p.m. the night before the child returns to school
- Spring break – in even-numbered years – begins at 6 p.m. on the day the child is released from school and ends at 6 p.m. the night before the child is to return to school
- Summer break – for two weeks beginning at 6 p.m. on the Sunday following the child’s release from school for the summer
The state’s plan is a suggested guideline that parents can use and modify to fit the needs of all parties involved. A court will only intervene if the parenting time plan is not considered to be in the best interests of the child or children.
Who Has Child Visitation Rights in Florida?
Both parents generally have visitation rights with their children – assuming visitation is in the best interests of the child or children. Grandparents are also given some visitation rights under two separate Florida laws. Maternal or paternal grandparents and step-grandparents may petition the court for visitation when a child has been taken from the physical custody of the parent. Another law gives grandparents visitation rights when both parents are
- In a persistent vegetative state
and when one parent is gone and the other parent has been convicted of a violent offense and poses a substantial threat of harm to the child.
As for other persons such as stepparents or other third parties, the courts have a lot of flexibility to evaluate visitation requests based on all of the circumstances and what is best for the kids involved.
How are Visitation Rights Enforced?
Visitation rights are enforced by the court. If one parent violates any part of the parenting plan, the other parent is not allowed to withhold visitation in retaliation. If one parent violates the visitation rights of the other parent, the offended parent must seek an enforcement order from the court. The court will consider the entire situation, prioritizing the child or children, and may order any of the following against the parent violating the parenting time plan.
- Award the other parent more visitation
- Order the parent pay court costs and attorneys fees
- Order the parent to attend a parenting course
- Order the parent to do community service
- Shift more financial responsibility for promoting contact to the parent
- Modify the visitation schedule
Not every violation of the parenting time plan will be an occasion to go back to court. People are busy and sometimes things just happen. A certain amount of patience and understanding can go a long way to resolve a minor situation before it becomes major. However, sometimes it is necessary to go back to court in order to make a parent comply with a parenting plan. When that happens it is best to have an attorney that is dedicated to supporting families and willing to be there when you need him.
The Fort Lauderdale child visitation lawyer at The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A. understands that resolving family matters is sometimes inconvenient and can’t wait until normal business hours. We are available to you 24/7. Yes, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case by clicking here or calling 954-533-2756.
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