A father playing with his two sons on the living room couch.

Can a Father Withhold a Child from the Mother in Florida?

Parenting can be a challenging adventure. One of the most complicated aspects of parenting can involve divorcing or ending your long-term relationship with your co-parent. After a divorce or breakup, one of the most contested issues can be child custody. But what happens if the father decides to withhold the child from the mother in Florida? Does the law protect her rights? Let's explore Florida's laws regarding this issue.

If a Father Is Withholding a Child from a Mother in Florida, Is It Considered Parental Alienation?

First, it's essential to understand that Florida's legal system prioritizes the best interests of the child. Family law judges strive to create an arrangement that guarantees the child is well taken care of and safe. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, if the father withholds the child from the mother, the court may consider it an act of parental alienation.

Parental alienation involves one parent manipulating a child and situation so that the child’s relationship with the other parent is damaged to the point that the child refuses to have a relationship with the other parent. If a parent is proven to have engaged in parental alienation, it can severely damage their chances of coming out on top in a child custody dispute.

What Should a Mother Do if a Father Is Withholding Her Child from Her?

If a father is withholding a child from the mother in Florida, the mother must take legal action to establish her rights over the child. She must file a petition for child custody or visitation with the court, presenting evidence that shows she wants to maintain an active role in the child's upbringing. This submission is crucial, especially if she wants to claim legal custody, which is a more comprehensive and binding form of control.

What if the Mother Already Has Legal Custody of the Child?

If the mother already has established legal rights over the child, the father cannot withhold the child from her. Doing so can result in legal penalties, such as fines, jail time, or the transfer of full custody to the mother.

In Florida, custody agreements fall within two categories: timesharing and decision-making. Timesharing regulates the physical access of each parent to the child, while decision-making governs the legal authority to make choices about the child's education, healthcare, or religion.

If the father has violated a custody agreement, the mother can file a motion for contempt of court. This legal procedure requires the father to explain why he breached the agreement and can result in a change of the arrangement, monetary sanctions, or even incarceration.

It's worth noting that every custody dispute case is unique, and the circumstances can vary widely. For example, if the father has concerns about the mother's ability to provide a safe and healthy environment, he can apply for a modification of the custody agreement. The court will investigate the issue and decide whether to modify the custody order, based on the best interests of the child.

Involved in a Child Custody Dispute in Florida? Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa Can Help

If you are involved in a child custody dispute in Florida, do not hesitate to seek legal advice from Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa. Our experienced team of family law attorneys can guide you through the legal process and help you secure the most favorable outcome possible for your and your child’s situation.

If you're dealing with a child custody dispute and need guidance, contact Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa. Our team of highly skilled child custody lawyers in Miami-Dade is here to provide assistance. To schedule a consultation, give us a call at (305) 853-9161 or conveniently fill out our online contact form. Additionally, take a moment to read our client reviews for more insight into our services. We are committed to helping you navigate this challenging situation with expertise and care.