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Articles Posted in Custody/Time-Sharing

The spread of COVID-19 altered the landscape of family law hearings. Specifically, many hearings are held remotely, and the parties use platforms like Zoom to participate. While remote hearings provide a safe and convenient means for courts to resolve issues, technological problems can inadvertently impair people’s rights. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which a father was disconnected during a remote hearing, and his parental rights were terminated. If you have questions regarding your duties and privileges as a parent, it is in your best interest to speak to a Miami child custody attorney.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the trial court scheduled a hearing to address the issue of whether the father’s parental rights should be terminated.  At the time of the hearing, the father was incarcerated. Although he initially refused to appear, he ultimately did by telephone. Before the hearing began, the court placed the father and his attorney in a separate virtual room so that they could communicate confidentially.

Allegedly, the attorney directed the father to stay online and advised him that he would be brought back into the virtual courtroom. The father reportedly expressed that he wished to proceed via video rather than telephone. He was disconnected before the hearing began, however, and never rejoined via telephone or video. It is disputed whether his absence was voluntary or the result of technical issues. Notwithstanding, the trial court proceeded with the hearing over the objection of the father’s attorney. In light of the father’s absence, the Department of Children and Families moved for a default judgment. The court denied the motion and conducted the hearing but ultimately terminated the father’s parental rights regardless. The father appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in conducting the hearing after he was connected. Continue reading ›

The Florida courts generally aim to preserve the relationship between parents and their children. A court’s primary interest in any action involving a child, however, is what is in the child’s best interest. As such, if a court determines that terminating a parent’s rights will benefit a child, that decision will typically be upheld on appeal. Recently, a Florida appellate court discussed the standard of review appellate courts employ when assessing whether a trial court properly terminated a parent’s rights in a case in which it ultimately upheld the trial court’s decision. If you have questions regarding custody of your child, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled Miami child custody lawyer regarding your options.

Procedural History of the Case

The grounds for the action to terminate the mother’s parental rights were not provided. It is reported, however, that proceedings were instituted to terminate the mother’s parental rights with regard to her three minor children. Multiple evidentiary hearings were held, during which the mother produced medical records and witness testimony in support of her assertion that her rights should be preserved. The trial court did not find the mother’s arguments to be persuasive and issued a final judgment terminating her parental rights. The mother appealed.

Appellate Review of Decisions Terminating Parental Rights

On appeal, the court focused on the standard of review employed when evaluating whether a trial court properly terminated a party’s parental rights. Specifically, the appellate court noted that its function was not to re-evaluate evidence presented at trial and substitute its judgment for that of the trial court. Continue reading ›

When a couple that has children decides to end their marriage, they will generally task the court with determining their paternal responsibility, such as how custody should be split. Prior to making custody decisions, courts consider a number of criteria, including whether one partner has committed acts of domestic abuse. Regardless of whether another court believes that custody should be adjusted because of domestic violence, if a family court issues an order granting timesharing rights, that ruling will govern parental rights. This was proven in a recent Florida decision in which the court overturned a domestic violence order that affected the father’s parenting rights to some extent. If you have any issues about your custody rights, you should speak with a skilled Florida family law lawyer promptly.

The Factual and Procedural History 

Allegedly, in 2016, the wife filed a petition for divorce. She also filed a petition seeking a domestic violence order against her spouse shortly after filing the divorce petition. She detailed multiple incidents in which her husband threatened her with violence, verbally harassed her, and pushed her in the years leading up to the filing of the domestic violence petition.

The court allegedly issued a default order against the spouse but did not include a provision regulating the parties’ minor children’s timesharing. Because the spouse had not received appropriate notice of the final hearing on the injunction, the court annulled the order and scheduled a new hearing in 2020. Following the hearing, the court issued another order, this time granting the wife full timesharing rights. The spouse filed an appeal, claiming that the injunction was in violation of the custody order issued by the family court. Continue reading ›

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.

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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 ›

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