Articles Posted in Custody/Time-Sharing

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New York CityWith same-sex marriage having been legally recognized in Florida for just over two years now, the legal system in this state will, inevitably, see an increase in family law cases with same-sex spouses and same-sex parents. Sometimes, South Florida family law cases involving same-sex partners may present unique issues. Other times, though, same-sex couples will find that their cases will be decided by the same things that influence cases with opposite-sex partners. That was the case recently for two married men, one of whom had their Florida case scuttled by the legal concept of forum non conveniens.

The couple, Marco and Han, entered into a civil partnership in the United Kingdom in 2008. That was converted into a marriage in the U.K. in 2015. Marco had dual citizenship in Italy and the U.K. Han had dual citizenship in Malaysia and the U.K. The couple shared one child, a daughter who was born in Missouri in 2014. A Missouri court gave Marco sole custody of the child.

For just less than one year, from 2014 to 2015, the family lived in Miami, residing in a friend’s apartment. Han moved back to London in the fall of 2015 and never returned to Florida. Marco and the daughter moved to New York in the following March, where they stayed. Marco filed for divorce in London in April 2016. Han filed for divorce here in South Florida a month later.

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gavelIn a recent child custody and timesharing case, the mother, who had lost in the trial court, lost again on appeal. The First District Court of Appeal did not conclude that the mother was blatantly or egregiously wrong in her arguments; instead, the appeals court simply concluded that the mother did not prove that the trial judge abused his discretion, so the appeals court had no basis for reversing the lower court’s ruling. The outcome in this matter highlights an important truth about any Florida family law matter, which is the difficulty appellants often face in winning on appeal and, as a related element, the importance of making your strongest possible presentation in the trial court.

The spouses, Kemberly and Mark, were a Union County couple who were in a situation that faces many married couples:  they were divorcing. What’s more, they were going through divorce not just as spouses but as parents of a six-year-old daughter. Also like many couples, the parents couldn’t agree on the issue of custody and timesharing, so they litigated that matter before a judge.

At the custody trial, the wife presented evidence that she was the one who had served as the daughter’s primary caregiver during the couple’s separation, which had gone on for a considerable length of time. The mother allegedly was also the parent who always took the child to school during the marriage. Based upon these and other factors, the mother argued that she should receive a majority of the time in any custody and timesharing order.

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moving boxesIn any family law case, it is important to know what proof you will need in order to succeed before you arrive in court. For example, in cases in which one spouse wants to relocate with the children, the law places certain proof obligations on each parent. In a recent case involving a Palm Beach County family, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial judge’s decision to deny the mother’s request to relocate. The mother had adequate proof that the move was in the best interests of the children, while the father had, on his side, only promises to change his ways and be a better parent in the future. Promises of future changes were not sufficient, the appeals court stated in its ruling.

The parents, Robert and Melanie, had lived in Virginia for 15 years before relocating to South Florida in 2012. Two years later, the wife filed for divorce. As part of that legal action, the wife asked for court permission to relocate, along with the couple’s two elementary school-aged children, back to Virginia. This move would benefit the children, she argued, since it would eliminate her need to travel for work, which was extensive as long as she lived in Florida.

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vintage TVIt started as a typical daytime TV installment of “exasperated single parent and out-of-control teen” on a September 2016 episode of the “Dr. Phil” show. Then, with one heavily accented taunt, a South Florida teen launched countless internet memes and became a social media star. Now, the girl’s father, who has been estranged from the daughter for most of her life, is fighting for custody, according to the Palm Beach Post. The legal contest regarding the ‘viral’ sensation teen and the past history of the parents’ circumstances can be very instructive for any parent who’s dealing with child custody, timesharing, and child support issues.

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mandalasWhen you and your spouse go through the custody and timesharing litigation process, there can be many steps along the path. Unfortunately, some cases will be contentious. In those cases, there may be many things over which you have to litigate, including which parts of your personal information your spouse is or is not entitled to obtain in the discovery process. In a recent Pensacola case, the issue was the mother’s medical and psychiatric records, which the father sought, covering a period of seven years.

The couple in this case filed for divorce in 2012, when their child was four. Three years later, the father initiated an involuntary commitment against the mother, alleging that she was abusing drugs, was exhibiting suicidal tendencies, and had driven while intoxicated with the child in the vehicle. Between the time of the divorce and the commitment proceeding, the couple had shared 50-50 timesharing

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prison051707-mdIn a decision that may, hopefully, bring a degree of closure to one family, prosecutors in South Florida decided to drop criminal charges that were pending against a mother who had famously violated court orders related to the custody of her young son, the Palm Beach Post reported. The case made national news due to the issue at the center of the parents’ dispute (the child’s circumcision), but ultimately provides a reminder of the strong enforceability of parenting agreements, even if one parent has a profound change-of-heart later.

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arguingIn any divorce case involving minor children, there are many issues that must be considered. One of these is the matter of making decisions regarding the children’s welfare. Ideally, the parents will work cooperatively after they’ve divorced to do what is necessary to advance the best interests of the children. In the real world, things can often be more complicated. Nevertheless, the law demands that divorcing parents strive to work together and share parental decision-making responsibilities in most cases. In a recent case decided by the Second District Court of Appeal, a trial judge’s order giving the mother “ultimate” authority was thrown out because the case didn’t meet the standard for awarding something other than true shared responsibility.

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gavelWhen you are dealing with a child custody or timesharing case that crosses state lines, the case can become complicated. You must deal with all of the requirements of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. That law says that custody and timesharing cases generally must be heard by a court in the child’s “home state.” However, if you live in Florida, and your child’s home state is somewhere else, there are certain situations in which you may still be able to bring your case here. In a recent Fifth District Court of Appeal case, the appeals court upheld a Florida trial court’s decision to modify timesharing, based upon the presence of “emergency” circumstances.

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file folderIn any civil court case, including family law cases, paperwork is an important part of achieving a successful outcome. The difference between a successful resolution and an unsuccessful one can be your ability to provide the correct documentation to the court to meet all of the procedural rules and to establish that you are entitled to the relief you’re requesting. In a recent case from Broward County, the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court’s decision finding a due process violation, which the court declared was a result of a lack of written proof that a father received proper notice that his former mother-in-law was requesting a change in custody of the man’s child.

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Divorce with childA recent case originating in Tallahassee provides a useful lesson in how a parent must go about presenting a case for a timesharing modification based upon parental alienation. The First District Court of Appeal upheld a trial judge’s refusal to modify a timesharing agreement because the father’s case was insufficient to demonstrate the sort of extreme, substantial, and unanticipated action required by the law to re-open the issue of timesharing. The court explained that this type of request sets up a very high hurdle for the parent seeking modification, and although the father’s allegations were “troubling” and demonstrated a contentious relationship between the parents, they weren’t enough.

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