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When a Surety Bond is Posted in a Florida Child Custody Case?

We previously discussed in this space that, under Florida law, the court can order one or both parties to a child time-sharing plan to post a surety bond. The purpose of this is to prevent one of the parties from fleeing the state with the children in an attempt to hide them, and we outlined some of the circumstances under which the court might order a bond. But what happens once one party posts a bond and what are the funds used for if the court orders the bond forfeited?

The law states that the court can order the bond forfeited once it finds a material violation of the time-sharing plan by removing the child or children from the state or otherwise attempting to conceal their whereabouts. It then gives three specific examples of how these funds are to be used: 1) to reimburse the non-violating parent costs associated with enforcing the terms of the plan, 2) to locate and return the children, and 3) to reimburse reasonable fees and costs as determined by the court. This last item seems to give the court fairly wide discretion in covering expenses incurred by the non-violating parent.

Bottom Line: Always consult with an expert Tampa family law attorney to make sure the terms of your time-sharing plan are enforced as provided by Florida law.

(copyright Stann Givens 2009)

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