Florida parental visitation rights

Every state in the union, including Florida, has embraced the concept of parental visitation as generally in the best interests of children and parents. The courts usually prefer to award "reasonable visitation," in which both parties work out a visitation schedule that meets their individual needs and desires rather than having a visitation plan ordered by the court. In practice, however, the custodial parent generally has more say in what is considered "reasonable."

If a parent refuses to grant or exercise reasonable visitation out of spite or malice, a court that originally ordered reasonable visitation may impose a schedule to ensure the non-custodial parent receives their rightful visitation. It is unusual for a court to sanction a non-custodial parent for not exercising visitation, but in certain circumstances the court may elect to increase child support, order the non-custodial parent to reimburse the custodial parent for expenses incurred as a result of the failure or take other official action.

If a parent refuses to grant or exercise reasonable visitation, the offended party may file for a modification of visitation rights. Additionally, the court may take such acts into account against the offending party if that parent petitions the court for something later. The judge is obligated in all cases to consider the best interests of the children first and foremost.

When negotiating visitation, an attorney might look at how the parents work with each other and interact with the children. In situations where the parents cannot set aside their differences for the sake of working out custody, the attorney might suggest mediation to work out a suitable agreement. If allegations of domestic violence or child or spousal abuse are present, the attorney may recommend supervised visitation to the court for purposes of safety.

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