Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Modifying Child Custody Orders

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.

As such, the court stated that it was required to reverse the order, as Florida law dictates that timesharing schedules cannot be modified without a showing of a material, substantial, and unexpected change and that the modification is in the best interests of the child in question. The court elaborated that the failure to include such findings, which it deemed perhaps the most important determinations a family court is tasked with making, will usually require reversal of any judgment that alters a prior parenting plan.

Confer with an Experienced  Miami Attorney

Parents do not always agree as to how custody should be divided, but the courts are expected to rule in the child’s best interest in custody matters after considering the evidence presented by both parties. If you wish to define your parental rights in a custody proceeding, it is smart to confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Miami family law attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can advise you of your options and aid you in seeking your desired outcome. Our office is located in Aventura, and we frequently represent people in child custody disputes in Miami. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.