Withholding Timesharing in Response to the COV-19 Outbreak

Withholding Timesharing in Response to the COV-19 Outbreak

For Parents Wanting to Make Changes to the Time-Sharing Schedule

It is understandable that with all the stress due to the spread of the Coronavirus, parents will want to take extra precautions in order to protect their children, and others from exposure to the virus.  That being said, if you are a parent, and you want to modify the parenting plan, it is important that you come to an agreement with the other co-parent, before interfering with any timesharing schedule. Although we want everyone to be safe, it is important to stick to the court ordered parenting plan, as closely as possible

It is also important to recognize what your true intensions for keeping your child home are.  Are you using Covid-19 as an excuse to not allow the other co-parent to exercise timesharing with the child.  For parents who plan to use the potential health scare as means to secure more timesharing with your child, be mindful that the court will address these allegations very seriously, and there are substantial consequences for attempting to temporarily modify the parenting plan without proper cause, and without the consent of the other co-parent.  Although health and safety are top priorities right now, this will be viewed by the courts in an objective light, meaning that what one parent might consider reasonable, may not be what the courts will consider to be reasonable.  The courts can and will punish parents who are found to abuse the timesharing provisions, because as it stands, it  is in your child’s best interest to keep their life as consistent and normal as possible during this chaotic time, and withholding timesharing from another parent is a disruption in your child’s routine.  If you are having a difficult time coming to agreement with the other co-parent to temporarily modify the timesharing agreement, and you truly believe doing so is in the best interests of your child, we recommend engaging with legal counsel for help, prior to making any changes.

For Parents Dealing with a Co-Parent Withholding from Timesharing

If your ex-spouse or the other co-parent is withholding your child from timesharing, please be aware there are remedies available.  A parent is not allowed to withhold timesharing from the other co-parent without proper cause, therefore, it is important to document any communication surrounding timesharing with your child.  Be clear in your requests to comply with the parenting plan, and the importance of complying with the parenting plan.  If the other co-parent continues to withhold the child, and it interferes with your timesharing schedule, we recommend reaching out to counsel, to determine how to proceed.

When one parent refuses to allow another parent to exercise their timesharing the court has a number of remedies they may order.  First, they may simply order that the child be delivered to the other parent, as soon as possible, in compliance with the parenting plan.  If multiple days were missed, due to the noncompliance of the other co-parent, the court is required, under the Florida Statutes to order make-up days.  The court also has the ability to order the non-complying parent to pay reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the nonoffending parent, in order to enforce the timesharing schedule. The remedies in place for withholding timesharing without proper cause, range from ordering community service to the noncomplying parent, to attending a parenting course, to even modifying the timesharing schedule upon request of the nonoffending party.  The court continues to place a high importance on the child’s best interest, and keeping a consistent schedule, is certainly in their best interests. We always recommend attempting to work out issues with the other co-parent first, but in the event a co-parent is unwilling to comply, legal remedies may be sought.


** This article is addressing changes to parenting plans, or timesharing schedules that were not agreed to by both parties.  If you and the other co-parent make changes you both agree to, that is okay (although understanding, without a court order, the court cannot enforce them).  That being said, this only applies where one parent is intentionally withholding timesharing without reasonable justification and using this global pandemic as an excuse to obtain more timesharing days.