COVID-19 UPDATE: Sandy T. Fox, P.A. remains open remotely to serve our community and assist them with their family law needs. We can be reached via the contact form on the site, and meetings can be handled virtually through the Zoom teleconferencing app.

Articles Posted in Custody/Time-Sharing

Parties who share custody of a child do not always agree with the court’s determination as to their custody rights. While they have the right to seek a modification, they must produce evidence that is sufficient to show that a change is necessary; otherwise, the courts should deny their request. If a court grants a custody order without finding that it is warranted due to a significant change in circumstances, the order may be reversed on appeal. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the court reversed the trial court’s order modifying custody on the grounds that it did not include such a finding. If you need assistance with a custody dispute, it is smart to speak to a Florida child custody lawyer about your options for protecting your parental rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that a trial court issued an order modifying the father’s timesharing rights with regards to a minor daughter. Shortly before the modification order was issued, though, another court entered a five-year domestic violence injunction order against the father, which, among other things, limited his timesharing with his daughter to supervised visits. In contrast to the injunction, the modification order issued in the custody proceeding granted the father unsupervised timesharing rights after he completed specified requirements. The mother appealed the order modifying custody.

Grounds for Modifying Child Custody Orders

The appellate court found in favor of the mother and reversed the custody order, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. The appellate court noted that the modification order, on its face, neglected to state that any material, substantial, and unexpected change in circumstances had occurred after the injunction order was entered or that a modification of the injunction order was in the minor child’s best interests. Continue reading ›

The Florida courts generally try to maintain the relationship between parents and their children. They will not do so to the detriment of a child, however, and if they find that a parent engages in conduct that harms a child, they may sever the parent’s rights. Recently, a Florida court discussed the grounds for terminating parental rights in a case in which the mother argued the trial court erred in determining that she should no longer be permitted to parent her children. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is vital to retain a skilled Florida child custody lawyer attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the mother had three minor children. The parental rights of the father, who was the biological parent of the two younger children, were terminated after he sexually abused the oldest child. Additionally, the trial court entered an injunction prohibiting the father from coming within 500 feet of the home where the mother lived with the children or having any contact with the children.

Allegedly, the oldest daughter awoke one night to find the father assaulting the mother. When she attempted to stop the assault, the father choked and hit her. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) later learned that the father routinely visited the residence, in violation of the court order. DCF then moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights on the grounds that she engaged in egregious conduct. During an adjudicatory hearing, the mother admitted she never ended her relationship with the father, and the evidence demonstrated he was regularly within the home. The court terminated the mother’s rights, and she appealed. Continue reading ›

Generally, in Florida custody cases, the courts aim to preserve the relationships between parents and their children and will grant both parents timesharing rights. The courts must always rule in the best interest of the children involved in a custody case, though, which in some cases will require the court to determine that a parent’s time with a child should be supervised. When a court orders supervised timesharing, it is not always clear what a parent must do to obtain unsupervised access, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is smart to meet with a Florida custody attorney to discuss what steps you can take to protect your parental interests.

History of the Case

It is reported that the wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The court issued a final judgment dissolving the marriage that dictated, in part, that the husband must be supervised during the time he spent with their minor children. The husband appealed on numerous grounds, including the argument that the trial court unjustly impinged on his parental rights by ordering his timesharing to be supervised for the duration of the children’s minority, as the court did not provide a roadmap for him to achieve unsupervised timesharing. The appellate court ultimately rejected the husband’s arguments and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Grounds for Lifting an Order Imposing Supervised Time-Sharing

The appellate court explained that recent Florida rulings resolved the issue of whether a court issuing a final judgment altering a parenting plan is required to provide a parent with concrete steps he or she can take to restore lost timesharing rights or return to a pre-modification custody status, affirmatively stating that the court did not owe such a duty. Continue reading ›

Parents typically want the best for their children and aim to raise them in a loving and stable environment, but not all parents possess the ability to properly care for their children. As such, in some instances, the courts will make the difficult decision to terminate parental rights. In some cases, the court will legally sever the parent-child relationship despite the fact that the parent is making strides towards improvement. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court affirmed the trial court’s order in which it terminated a mother’s parental rights, despite evidence the mother had made marked progress. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is critical to retain a seasoned Florida child custody attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the Florida Department of Children and Families instituted an action to terminate the mother’s parental rights with regard to her two minor children. The court developed a case plan that the mother was required to adhere to in order to maintain her parental rights. The mother failed to adhere to the plan, and the court issued a final order terminating her rights. The mother then appealed.

Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Florida

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling after reviewing the facts of the case. In its brief opinion, the appellate court noted that the mother initially neglected to comply with the case plan, but testimony indicated that she recently began to make progress. The appellate court explained, however, that there was nonetheless substantial evidence that supported the trial court’s determination that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of her children. Continue reading ›

Back on May 10, the FDA opened the door to 12-to-15-year-olds receiving the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. Many parents greeted this news with profound joy, while others were highly skeptical. One poll showed that 43% of parents surveyed were in favor of their 12-to-15-year-old getting vaccinated as soon as possible, while another 29% were opposed to having their 12-to-15-year-old child receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This is the sort of split that can – and many family law attorneys believe will – lead to litigation. As with any potential dispute like this, the welfare of your child is what’s paramount. So, if protecting that means legal action, make sure you have representation from an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

Several news sources, including MarketWatch, have reported that family lawyers and other experts expect a surge of disputes over kids and COVID-19 vaccinations. As one attorney put it, some parents “are going to fight over their children, given the opportunity, and make any kind of power play that they can.”

In the past, some courts outside Florida have taken up vaccine-related issues. Courts in Texas, Colorado, and North Carolina have all sided with the parent who desired the child’s immunization. A court in Pennsylvania modified custody from shared legal custody (with primary physical custody to the mother) to sole custody to the father because the mother had repeatedly flouted a court order allowing the father to get the children vaccinated.

Continue reading ›

There are lots of nuances about the law that skilled South Florida parental responsibility lawyers know keenly well but that laypeople aren’t familiar with. This can include very recent – and very important – changes in the law. A knowledgeable family law attorney can provide your case with the benefit that comes from a completely updated knowledge of the law and experience-based awareness of what those changes will mean to you.

The issue of timesharing was an example of one of those areas where a highly important change occurred recently. Until late April, certain types of timesharing cases could have radically different outcomes depending on where they were filed.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal, whose ruling impact Broward and Palm Beach counties, said that, if a trial court issued a modification that reduced a parent’s timesharing, then the order must include specific “concrete steps” that that parent could take to get his/her timesharing restored to where it was before the reduction.

Continue reading ›

If you’ve read about enough court cases, you’ve probably encountered tales of people who made some regrettable choices. Perhaps it was the criminal defendant who appealed his sentence only to have the appellate process end with him getting an even longer sentence. This may give you pause if you’re considering a motion regarding your ex-spouse’s misconduct in your parental responsibility and timesharing case, as you may fear that going back to court may mean you exiting with a worse arrangement than when you entered. You should not, however, let this fear deter you. With the help of a skilled South Florida timesharing lawyer, you will generally be protected from this happening.

Confused about what we mean? Let’s look at this real-life parental responsibility and timesharing example from the Orlando area. A trial court had ordered two parents to place their child in a pre-K program roughly halfway between the parents’ homes. Because the child had an individual education plan (IEP,) that was impossible, and the school system ended up placing the child in a school close to the father’s home.

According to the father, the mother frequently did not transport the child to pre-K when she had timesharing. Frustrated, the father filed a motion asking the judge to hold the mother in contempt and to suspend the mother’s timesharing. The mother filed no counter-motions.

Continue reading ›

The ideal situation for minor children with divorced parents is, of course, for the parents to avoid conflict and collaborate as much as possible. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. Parents may use the legal system, not as a last-resort vehicle for protecting the best interests of the children, but as a means for venting every frustration they feel toward their ex. If your ex hauls you into court alleging contempt, it is essential that you take the contempt case seriously, regardless of your opinion of the merits of his/her case. Being found in contempt can have serious negative implications for your life, including your relationship with your children, so defend against this kind of case vigorously with the help of an experienced South Florida timesharing and visitation lawyer.

It is always important to make certain that you follow the terms of the court’s order on timesharing and visitation very carefully and precisely. However, sometimes, your ex-spouse may try to allege contempt, not because you violated a black-and-white provision of the order, but merely because he/she was angry that you did not do things “her way” or “his way.” Just because you did something that was contrary to your ex-spouse’s preferences, that’s not contempt unless it is also contrary to what the judge ordered.

Presenting a successful defense against a contempt allegation, then, sometimes is simply a matter of establishing that the wrongful action you allegedly took was something that was not discussed in the trial court’s order. Take, for example, this timesharing and visitation scenario from the other side of the state.

Continue reading ›

Changes in the law happen all the time. Whether it is a new ruling from an appeals court or the Supreme Court or a new bill from the legislature, the law continues to shift and evolve. That fact is one of the many reasons why having the right legal team on your side in your divorce case in Florida is essential. The right Florida divorce lawyer will not only be able to provide you with thoughtful advice about your case but also base that advice on the latest, most up-to-date knowledge of the law.

Alimony reform is again in the news in Florida as legislators once again debate the potential for modifying state law to eliminate permanent alimony here. Florida remains one of just a very few jurisdictions where a court can award permanent alimony to a divorcing spouse. (The others are Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia.)

A bill that recently cleared an important hurdle in the House of Representatives would change that. HB 1559 would alter Florida’s alimony laws and remove permanent alimony as an option. The current reform proposal would allow for bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational alimony. The longest possible duration any alimony award could run would be a period equal to one-half of the length of the marriage.

Continue reading ›

The law office of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., recently secured an important victory in the Third District Court of Appeal on behalf of a Miami-Dade divorce client who had received an unfair ruling in the trial court. The court of appeal’s decision overturning that trial court ruling is an important reminder of the profound importance of having the right legal team in your corner. It is also a reminder that, while the law gives trial court judges very broad discretion in making their rulings, there are limits on what they can do.

The divorce case involved, among other things, the issues of alimony, child support and a parenting plan. The wife was a successful attorney who worked for the federal government and made more than $113,000 per year. The husband was a disabled former construction worker who made less than $30,000 per year, all from various forms of government benefits.

The spouses were able to use mediation successfully and resolve the division of their assets and liabilities. They also worked out a parenting plan at that time. When the case went to a hearing before the court, the spouses asked the judge to decide alimony, child support, and to adopt the parenting plan. The judge indicated that the parenting plan would be ratified.

Continue reading ›

01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08