What Should or Can I Do When the Father Has Primary Custody but Has Left Our Child With Me for 60 Days and Counting?

The father has primary custody but left our child with me and left the child with me 60 days ago with no indication of when or whether he will return, and he has had no contact with our children but an 11-minute video call. Florida law applies.

I am not licensed to practice law in the state of Florida, but I will answer your question based upon the law of the state of Utah, which is the jurisdiction in which I a licensed to practice law. To get the answer to this legal question as it applies in Florida, you’ll need to consult with a knowledgeable Florida family law attorney.

The answer to that question is more complicated than it may seem at first blush.

Your question appears to imply a question that is different than the one you asked. I think your question is asking what action can or should you take legally now that the father (who happens to be the custodial parent as well) appears to have abandoned the child to you. If this is not what has happened, then I wouldn’t try to lie to the court and claim that it has. If the father has told you that he has to leave the state for a brief period because of work obligations or some other legitimate reason and has every intention of returning and exercising primary or sole custody of the child afterward, then clearly the father has not abandoned the child and is simply asking you to help him and held the child while he is unable to exercise custody for a brief period.

So, assuming that the father left the child with you with no indication of when he would return, you could rush to the courthouse with a petition to modify the child custody award, citing the fact that the father and custodial parent left the child in your care and custody before moving out of state, then having no contact with the child for 60 days except for one short video chat with the child. And I would bet that he is also not giving you any money to help you support the child financially in his absence. If you were to claim these events, and only these events, as warranting modification of the child custody award, it could be enough, but if the father were to oppose your petition, it is likely that he would win. The reason he would likely win is because the court would find that the father had essentially not “abandoned the child enough” to justify stripping him of the child custody award.

If the father has abandoned the child, you would likely need more time to pass before you petition to modify the child custody award, so that you could establish this fact beyond any reasonable doubt. Six months or more ought to do it. Of course, if you wait, you run the risk of the father returning after, say, 2 1/2 months or three months or four months. And if he reappears in that period of time and then re-establishes the exercise of custody, a petition to modify the child custody award would, in my opinion, likely fail.


  • the father has left the child with you for approximately six months or longer, has little to no contact with the child in that period, and provides little to no financial support for the child
  • modification is what’s best for the child as opposed to what’s in your self-interest (if you were to seek a modification of the child custody award for the benefit of the child and not primarily for your benefit),

then your odds of prevailing on a petition to modify the child custody award are good.


Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

(15) Eric Johnson’s answer to What should or can I do when the father has primary custody but has dropped the child off with me left state and not returned for 60 days to get the child and had no contact but 1 1 minute video call since I got the child? Florida law – Quora


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