A Self-Represented Florida Mom’s Procedural Deficiencies Help Doom Her Appeal of a Timesharing Ruling

Cutting off a parent’s timesharing, even just temporarily, is considered a relatively severe outcome in Florida. Courts generally will cut off a parent’s timesharing only in a narrow range of circumstances, and are required to give the suspended parent a clear pathway to follow to get timesharing back. What this means, from a legal perspective, is that there may be several very fruitful arguments for getting the order that suspended your timesharing reversed.

Of course, in order to do that, you must have followed all of the procedural steps correctly. When it comes to your time and your relationship with your child don’t risk proceeding on your own; be sure you have experienced South Florida family law counsel on your side. Your skilled attorney can, among other things, make sure you have all of the needed documents submitted to the court and that the arguments you present are potentially persuasive ones.

As an example of the difference a skilled attorney’s presence – or absence – can make, there’s the case of J.P. and P.D. The pair shared one child together. At some point, the trial court in Miami-Dade County ordered a temporary modification of timesharing; specifically, all of the mother’s time with the child was temporarily suspended.

There are actually several reasons why a court might possibly suspend a parent’s timesharing temporarily. It may involve a parent’s run-in with the law, especially if the parent is incarcerated as a result. It may involve mental health issues, such as a parent who is experiencing suicidal ideation or otherwise hearing voices directing him/her to self-harm or harm others. Additionally, it could involve a parent who is experiencing substance abuse problems or a parent who has brought a relative or partner into the home who represents a potential danger to the child. In all of these issues, there is one common thread, which is that timesharing is suspended because the continuation of timesharing with that parent represents a potential harm to the child, and is not in his/her best interests.

This brings us back to J.P., the mother whose timesharing was temporarily suspended. She appealed that ruling. She proceeded without a lawyer, and her appeal was unsuccessful. Her appeal was unsuccessful, in no small part, because of procedural deficiencies in her presentation to the appeals court. She did not provide the appeals court with a transcript of the lower court hearing in which her timesharing was suspended. When you appeal and you neglect to give the appeals court a record of the trial below, you greatly narrow your chances of success. With a trial record, the appeals court can analyze factual issues in context to decide if the trial judge’s complete suspension of timesharing was what’s called an “abuse of discretion,” which will trigger a reversal.

Without that record, the appeals court is limited to looking for things that represent an error of law that is obvious from the face of the trial court’s order. This includes things like, for example, a calculation of child support that is blatantly inconsistent with Florida’s child support laws. The sort of things that will be considered an obvious error “on the face” of the order are comparatively few, meaning that your odds of success diminish dramatically.

The appeals court found no error of law on the face of the lower court’s order in J.P.’s case, so, without a trial record, it could not rule for her and her timesharing remained suspended.

Skilled counsel can help you navigate the legal system in the most advantageous manner possible. Whether preparing for trial or preparing for an appeal, an experienced attorney can provide insight that even a sophisticated non-lawyer probably wouldn’t know. Don’t risk your relationship with your child; instead, consult the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys have been providing clients with thoughtful advice and helpful results for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

What Type of Restrictions Can a Florida Court Order Place on My Timesharing With My Child?, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Nov. 14, 2018

What It Takes to Obtain a Modification of Timesharing in Florida, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Sept. 21, 2018