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In Florida, the best interest of the child standard dictates how custody cases are handled. In other words, regardless of whether the courts issue a parenting plan or the parties independently come to an agreement that the court then affirms, the plan must promote the child’s health and well-being. As such, to demonstrate a parenting plan should be modified a party will typically have to show a substantial change in circumstances. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, as explained in a recent Florida ruling issued in a custody action. If you want to learn more about what steps you can take to protect your parental rights, it is wise to confer with an assertive Miami custody attorney.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father entered into a parenting plan outlining a series of timesharing schedules that would progressively increase the father’s time with the minor child over three years. The plan included a provision stating that by March 1, 2019, the parties would revisit the timesharing schedule, with the option to modify it without filing a supplemental petition for modification if they could not agree, in which case the matter would be submitted to the court.

Allegedly, the father subsequently petitioned for the modification. The mother moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that there was no change in circumstances that warranted a modification. The court agreed and ruled in favor of the mother. The father appealed. Continue reading ›

Florida law permits the courts to award parties alimony in divorce actions. The duration of alimony granted depends on numerous factors. The amount granted, generally, depends on the need of the party seeking alimony and the ability of the person from whom alimony is sought to pay. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion, this requires an analysis of the parties’ net, not gross income.  If you have questions about how a divorce may impact you financially, including whether you may be eligible for alimony, it is smart to talk to a skilled Miami divorce attorney.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife were married and had one minor child. In 2019, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. In response, the husband filed a counterpetition. The parties entered into a partial mediated marital settlement agreement in February 2022. The agreement resolved most issues but did not dictate rights or obligations with regard to alimony, child support, or attorney’s fees. The trial court subsequently ratified the agreement.

It is alleged that the court later held a final hearing to address the remaining issues. Following the hearing, it entered an amended final judgment of dissolution in which it awarded the wife durational alimony for five years. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

In family law matters involving minor children, the Florida courts’ driving concern is what is in the children’s best interest. As such, in cases in which the parents’ ability to care for their children in a safe and healthy environment is called into question, a court may find it necessary to appoint a guardian ad litem. Which party is responsible for paying for such guardians depends on numerous factors, as discussed in a recent Florida opinion. If you have questions regarding how you can protect your parental rights, it is smart to meet with a Miami child custody attorney at your earliest convenience.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the mother and father, who have two minor children, divorced in Virginia in 2011. In 2020, the mother filed petitions for injunction for protection against domestic violence with children on behalf of the minor children. The trial court appointed a guardian ad litem for the children in the domestic violence cases and ordered the father to pay 100% of the Guardian’s fees. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the mother’s petitions but appointed the Guardian for further intervention.

Florida law allows courts to order parties to pay alimony in divorce actions. Generally, the courts will take multiple things into consideration when determining what constitutes an appropriate alimony award. As such, as explained in a recent Florida opinion, a party that wishes to modify an alimony order usually must demonstrate that there has been a significant change since the order was issued in order to show the modification was warranted. If you need help with an alimony dispute, it is in your best interest to consult a Miami divorce attorney to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that in 2019, the trial court issued a final judgment of dissolution, which included an unequal distribution of marital assets favoring the wife and nominal alimony awarded to her based on the husband’s purported lack of ability to pay. In 2020, the wife filed a petition seeking modification of the alimony arrangement, alleging that the husband had not made genuine efforts to secure comparable income since the divorce despite having significant earning potential in banking.

Allegedly, however, the wife didn’t assert any substantial and unanticipated changes in circumstances since the initial judgment. Further, during the subsequent evidentiary hearing, the wife failed to present evidence regarding the former husband’s ability to pay or available employment opportunities in his field. The husband argued that his financial situation hadn’t changed and that the modification standard wasn’t met. He provided evidence of operating a hardware store franchise, which incurred losses, and testified to his inability to find employment in banking due to technological advancements and personal factors. Despite this, the trial court granted the wife’s petition, increasing the husband’s alimony payments. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

Florida law presumes that when a baby is born to a married man and woman, the man is the father of her child. Similarly, if a man acknowledges he is the father of a child born out of wedlock, the court will presume he is the child’s father. Issues can arise, though, when the courts are faced with competing presumptions of paternity, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you have questions about establishing paternity, it is advisable to meet with a Miami paternity attorney to determine what steps you can take to protect your interests.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married in 2008, but by late 2012, they were separated. Neither filed for divorce. During this period, the wife had a casual sexual relationship with the purported father while also engaging in intercourse with the husband during one of his visits to Florida. The wife became pregnant and informed the purported father that he was the father, while telling the husband otherwise.

It is alleged that the purported father, believing he was the father, signed the child’s birth certificate. However, paternity testing later revealed that the husband was the biological father. Subsequently, the wife sought to establish the husband’s paternity. The trial court determined that establishing paternity in favor of the purported father was in the child’s best interest due to competing presumptions of paternity and adjudicated him to be the father. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

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Many step-parents have loving relationships with their step-children and eventually wish to adopt them. If the biological parents consent to the adoption, the process should be relatively seamless. As demonstrated in a recent Florida case, though, problems can arise if the court has concerns about an adoption agreement’s language. If you want to learn more about step-parent adoption, it is wise to confer with a Miami adoption attorney to evaluate your options.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

It is reported that the stepfather, with the assistance of an adoption entity, sought to adopt his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. The biological father executed a consent form for the adoption, which closely adhered to the language prescribed by Florida Statutes. This consent explicitly stated its irrevocable nature except under circumstances of fraud or duress.

Allegedly, the father simultaneously entered into an Adoption Settlement Agreement with the stepfather and the child’s mother, which aimed to settle all claims regarding the child and outlined provisions for an “open adoption” allowing continued contact between the father and the child. Despite the parties filing necessary documents and complying with court orders to address deficiencies, the trial court, without a hearing, invalidated the consent and dismissed the adoption petition based on concerns about the agreement’s language. The stepfather appealed. Continue reading ›

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It is not uncommon for parents who share custody of a child to disagree over where the child should live or whether one parent should be able to move to another state with the child. In such instances, the parties will typically seek input from the courts to determine their parental rights. If a party relocates with a child without the court’s permission, they will likely face adverse consequences, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you need help with a custody dispute, it is smart to consult a Miami child custody attorney to discuss your rights.

Case Background

It is alleged that the mother and the father were in a long-term relationship but never married. They resided together in Hawaii, where their daughter was born. However, in 2017, the mother relocated with their daughter to Key West without objection from the father. After settling in Key West, the parties agreed to a rotating custody arrangement for their daughter. In 2021, the father also moved to Key West and filed a petition to establish paternity, seeking timesharing and child support. The mother responded with a counterpetition, seeking similar remedies.

Reportedly, the court ratified a temporary order granting timesharing rights on an alternating weekly basis. Within two months, however, the father filed a petition to relocate with their daughter back to Hawaii. The mother objected, and the court scheduled the remaining issues in the case for trial, including the relocation petition. The father then relocated back to Hawaii before the court rendered a ruling on the relocation petition. The trial court then denied the petition for relocation while simultaneously adopting the father’s proposed parenting plan, granting him extended timesharing with their daughter during school recesses in Hawaii and additional timesharing in Key West. These conflicting decisions prompted the subsequent appeal. Continue reading ›

Florida custody disputes can become contentious, and it is not uncommon for one parent to accuse the other of trying to alienate them from their child. In some instances, a parent may go so far as to accuse a co-parent of tortious interference with custodial rights. While Florida law allows for such actions, they can be challenging to prove, as demonstrated in a recent Florida custody case. If you are dealing with a custody disagreement, it is advisable to meet with a Miami child custody attorney promptly to determine your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the father brought tort claims against the mother and the stepfather. Specifically, he alleged intentional interference with custodial rights as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress claims (IIED) against both the mother and the stepfather regarding their then-teenage daughter. The focus of the allegations against the stepfather involved his purported conspiracy with the mother in preventing the daughter’s return to Canada, where the father resided, against the daughter’s wishes to remain in Florida.

It is alleged that the stepfather’s involvement encompassed actions such as allowing the daughter to reside in his home, facilitating her enrollment in a Florida high school, and supporting her pursuit of emancipation from the father. The mother and stepfather moved for dismissal of the father’s claims via summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, prompting the father to appeal. Continue reading ›

When faced with custody disputes, the Florida courts will typically take great care in drafting a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children involved. As such, a party that wishes to modify a parenting plan must show that a change has occurred since the plan was issued that is both lasting and substantial, must set forth their requested relief, and must show that the change warrants the relief sought. As discussed in a recent Florida ruling, if a court grants relief that is not requested, the court’s ruling may be reversed. If you need help with a disagreement over custody, it is smart to talk to a Miami child custody attorney about what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father were not married but shared a minor child who was born in 2010. In 2012, the trial court established a parenting plan that dictated shared parental responsibility and a 70/30 timesharing schedule, primarily in favor of the mother. The plan required phone contact between the child and the noncustodial parent on specified days. In 2019, the father was arrested for healthcare fraud, prompting an emergency order awarding the mother sole custody.

Allegedly, the father was convicted in 2020. While serving a federal prison sentence, he filed a petition to enforce the phone call schedule and filed a supplemental petition focusing on child support. Following a hearing, the trial court expanded the father’s visitation rights, ordering four prison visits a year and a modified phone call schedule. The mother appealed. Continue reading ›

Divorce actions are often contentious, and it is not uncommon for a Florida court to issue an order in a divorce proceeding that prevents a party from taking intentional or inadvertent actions that harm the other party’s interests. If a person fails to comply with the terms of such order, they may be held in contempt of court. As discussed in a recent Florida divorce case, overturning a contempt finding can be challenging. If you want to obtain a divorce, it is wise to confer with a Miami divorce lawyer to evaluate your options.

Procedural and Factual Setting

It is reported that the husband and the wife were involved in an ongoing divorce case. The wife filed two contempt motions against the husband; one of these motions was granted by the trial court. The contempt order the court granted arose from the husband allegedly canceling a credit card that the wife had access to due to her employment with their jointly-owned business. The husband then sought certiorari relief, arguing that the trial court couldn’t consider the credit card issue as it belonged to the business, a non-party to the case.

Certiorari Relief in Divorce Actions

On appeal, the court first explained the principles surrounding certiorari jurisdiction, emphasizing its extraordinary nature and limited application. Specifically, the court noted that certiorari is considered only when there is a departure from the essential requirements of the law and when irreparable harm, not correctable on post-judgment appeal, is demonstrated. The court underscored the importance of a “jurisdictional evaluation” focused on irreparable harm before certiorari can be used for reviewing non-final orders, aiming to discourage piecemeal review. Continue reading ›