When an ex denies visitation, many Florida fathers are unsure of what they should do. Before taking steps that could make the situation worse, it's important to learn more about your rights as a father.
While Florida law has moved toward providing fathers greater equality in parenting time, many fathers still face an uphill battle when it comes to enforcing their rights. For example, unmarried fathers may not have a right to see their child against the mother's wishes unless they first establish paternity.
Some mothers use visitation as a weapon whenever they have a dispute with their ex. However, if you have the right to see your child under a court-ordered parenting plan, only a court can take that right away. If your ex repeatedly denies or interferes with visitation, you can file an enforcement action with the court. The court may then take a number of actions to enforce your rights, including
- Finding your ex in contempt of court
- Awarding you "make-up time" for the visitation you missed
- Punishing your ex with a fine, community service or jail time
- Changing your parenting time plan
It's important to put the case in the hands of the court rather than taking actions that could end up hurting you. For example, if you stop making child support payments because your ex denies visitation, you could find yourself facing an enforcement action. You could be subject to paying child support arrearages and interest. You could even end up in jail. Child support is an obligation that is separate from parenting time. You cannot withhold child support payments because an ex denies visitation, nor can your ex withhold visitation because you are behind in your payments.
The ones who suffer most when fathers are denied parenting time are the children. To protect your relationship with your children following a divorce or the breakup of an unmarried relationship, it is important to work with an attorney who not only understands the law but who is passionate about the importance of fathers.
At The Nix Law, P.A., in Orlando, we are passionate about protecting the rights of fathers.