Florida Court Declines to Relinquish Jurisdiction Over a Custody Case

Generally, when Florida residents are engaged in disagreements over parental rights, they will file a custody action in the county in which they or their co-parent resides. If a Florida court can validly exercise jurisdiction in a custody case and issues an initial custody determination, the court’s jurisdiction will typically continue until the parties move out of the state or the court determines that the parties no longer have a connection to the state. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion issued in a custody matter, the argument that a forum is inconvenient is not a sufficient basis for relinquishing jurisdiction to another state. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is wise to confer with a Miami divorce attorney regarding your rights as soon as possible.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the mother’s and father’s marriage was dissolved via a final judgment issued by a Florida court. The judgment also determined their rights with regard to custody and timesharing of their minor children. The father is a member of the military and is a Florida resident, but he is stationed outside of Florida.

It is reported that after obtaining the court’s permission, the mother moved to Idaho with the children while the dissolution was pending. The final dissolution order confirmed her relocation. The mother then filed a motion in an Idaho court to amend the custody agreement. She also filed a motion with the Florida court that issued the final judgment in the dissolution proceeding to transfer jurisdiction of the custody case to the Idaho court, in which she filed her motion on the grounds that Florida had become an inconvenient forum. The Florida court denied her motion, and she appealed.

Continuing Jurisdiction in Custody Matters

On appeal, the mother argued that the trial court abused its discretion by ignoring or misinterpreting the factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.520, which deals with inconvenient forums in child custody actions. The court disagreed, noting that the mother’s reliance on 61.520 was improper.

Instead, the court explained that as the trial court made the initial custody determination in the matter, it had exclusive continuing jurisdiction over the case unless the relinquishment of jurisdiction was warranted pursuant to Florida Statute 61.515.

Under that law, a court has continuing jurisdiction unless neither the parents nor the child has a substantial connection to the state, evidence regarding the child’s care and protection is no longer available in the state, or none of the parties reside in the state. As the mother neglected to offer evidence sufficient to demonstrate that the trial court should relinquish jurisdiction, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Miami Attorney

It is not uncommon for people involved in custody disputes to attempt to transfer their case to a court they believe is more likely to rule in their favor, but it is difficult to prove that changes in jurisdiction are warranted. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss your case. The trusted Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are mindful of the importance of protecting parental rights, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent parties in custody matters in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.