Any South Florida family law attorney or couples seeking separation or divorce who read a recent article in the Huffington Post would have been aghast at the tale. A divorced couple who shared custody of their son did so without any formal timesharing agreement. They agreed the son would live with his Mom, and spend time with his father in California. Then, following one trip west, the father informed the mother that he and his new wife thought they were better suited to serve the boy's needs. He called her unfit and claimed sole custody.
Without a formal, court-approved timesharing agreement, the mother had very few legal remedies to bring her son home.
In Florida, this could not happen in a legal, court-approved divorce. Florida divorce lawyers and family law attorneys are required to submit for court approval a parenting plan and a time-sharing schedule for minor children.
Neither parent can alter the plan without the permission of the other parent or the court. Any significant deviation would require court approval.
If the couple were divorced in Florida and submitted a parenting plan and timesharing schedule - and the father then moved to another state - Florida would retain jurisdiction. The mother could have filed for a court order in Florida that would then have been enforceable in the other state under the full faith and credit laws of the U.S. Constitution.
The courts could issue a pick-up order, and the father could face kidnapping charges.
If the father were to move overseas, this could create an even more onerous challenge. Some countries are signatories to international treaties that govern international kidnapping. Others do not. Will those countries honor the custody order of the originating country? This law office has had cases where children were taken to Lebanon or Saudi Arabia. In such cases, it can be very challenging to get a case heard in a court, must less to get the child returned.
The Law Offices of Barry I. Finkel P.A., handles complex timesharing, custody and divorce litigation for a variety of clients, including high net worth individuals. As a divorce and family law firm, the practice serves the needs of the entire family. Established in Fort Lauderdale / Broward County, Florida, in 1992, and now in Boca Raton, the firm's lawyers provide trusted matrimonial counsel to clients facing turbulent times and unsettling circumstances. For a consultation or to schedule an appointment, please call 954-776-1414.