This is the second installment of our frequently asked questions (FAQ) post on contested child custody issues. Contested child custody cases are often among the most bitterly contested family law cases, but our West Palm Beach contested custody team works diligently to lower the temperature on such disputes to reduce the stress on our clients and potential negative impact on our clients’ children. Even when a custody dispute starts out contentious, emotions sometimes cool as we assist parties to a paternity action or divorce. It is rare that a Florida parenting plan imposed by a family law judge is more desirable than a parenting plan, albeit imperfect, agreed to by the parties to a Florida divorce or paternity involving custody issues. If you are involved in a child custody dispute in West Palm Beach, we invite you to also review the first part of this two part FAQ. While we have tried to address common issues that callers ask us, you can obtain more detailed and specific information by calling our office and arranging for a free initial consultation.
What if the other parent is discussing the case with my children and otherwise attempting to alienate my children?
The most important advice in this situation is to avoid the temptation to engage in similar behavior to neutralize the impact of disparaging comments to your children. If you have already hired a West Palm Beach contested child custody attorney, you should inform your attorney of the situation. An experienced Florida child custody attorney has many options to address efforts by a parent to alienate the affections of children. Many times an attorney may be appointed to represent your children or the court may order a custody evaluation. If the other parent is engaged in a pattern of disparaging you in front of the children or intentionally frustrating your parent-child relationship, you and your attorney should disclose such inappropriate conduct to the Court. When you mediate your case, you should also make the mediator aware of the situation.
What can the court do to address the issue of my spouse making disparaging comments about me to my children and otherwise trying to poison them against me?
The issue of one parent engaging in a campaign to alienate children from the other parent is an issue that Florida courts take very seriously. One of the factors a Florida judge must consider when applying the best interest of the child standard in fashioning a parenting plan is the willingness of a parent to promote frequent and continuous contact with the other parent. Florida child custody law favors a child having substantial contact with both parents unless one parent has fitness issues that endanger the minor children. When a Florida family court finds that one parent is engaged in efforts to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent, a court may award more parenting time to the innocent parent. The bottom line is that it is never a good idea to disparage the other parent in your child’s presence either in terms of what is best for your child or the possible implications in a child custody dispute.
The other parent has not paid child support for months so I would like to deny parenting time until I receive my child support?
The issues of paying child support and parenting time are independent of one another. A parent should never unilaterally deny parenting time that has been established in a parenting plan. The proper remedy if a parent is not paying child support may be to have an attorney file a contempt motion. A Florida family law court has a number of powerful tools at its disposal to compel child support payments, including incarceration of someone not paying support. Alternatively, one could seek enforcement through the Florida Department of Revenue. However, if you decide to deny time-sharing to the other parent who is not paying support, then this could actually have an adverse impact on your own time-sharing schedule.
If my spouse has alleged past acts of domestic violence by me, do these allegations matter if there is no evidence I have every abused my children?
Allegations of spousal abuse in a child custody case in Florida are very serious. If your spouse is making this type of allegation, it is essential that you obtain an experienced West Palm Beach child custody attorney. Evidence of domestic violence and sexual violence are statutory factors that may result in very limited or supervised parenting time. Even if you have never been charged with domestic violence and have not been the party to any case involving domestic violence, these allegations can have serious ramifications so it is essential that you obtain legal advice promptly.
Although these answers may address some of your concerns, there are many issues that may be important to parents involved in a West Palm Beach child custody case. No matter where you are located, the experienced West Palm Beach parenting plan attorneys of the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. are just a phone call away.