This is the next post in my series on the handling of parental abduction cases in Melbourne, Florida. My last article discussed the process of filing for a “pick up order” when the other parent is refusing to return the child. The Court will often sign such orders quickly and this will enable a parent to enlist law enforcement in their efforts to retrieve the child and their belongings. If you need help with filing such a request then it is suggested that you contact a family law attorney immediately. In this article I will discuss what one should expect at the hearing which will be held shortly after the pick up order is signed. If you require legal assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
The Court will hold a hearing shortly after the pick up order is signed. The purpose of this hearing will be to determine if the offending parent should be held in contempt for failing to follow the previous custody order. If the offending parent is found in contempt then they will face possible incarceration and may be required to pay the complaining parent’s legal fees. If the facts of the case are egregious enough then the Court may consider a change in child custody (a subject I will discuss in my next article). It is important to understand that how the Court will rule in any given situation will always depend on the specific facts of the case.
The follow up hearing will likely begin with the Court confirming that the child has been returned and with the complaining parent’s counsel providing the Judge with an update. The Court will then hear arguments as to why the offending parent should or should not be found in contempt. When deciding whether the offending parent should be found in contempt the Court will consider factors such as the level of flagrancy in the offending parent’s conduct, whether there is a prior history of the child not being returned, the number of requests the non-offending parent had to make for the child to be returned, and any other relevant case history. The Court will also entertain the offending parent’s justification for refusing to follow the Court Order. After hearing argument from each side the Court will make a decision. If a request to change custody is pending then the Judge may also make a temporary modification to the current order which will stay in place until the parties return to Court.
I cannot stress enough that it is important that the facts of your case be properly presented to the Court. By retaining experienced counsel you help to ensure that the Judge fully hears your side of the story. I am a Melbourne attorney who has experience in parental kidnapping cases. If you need assistance then contact my office to speak with a lawyer. My office also services clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.