Florida Court Discusses Modifications of Child Custody Orders

When issuing custody orders, the Florida courts’ paramount concern is what is in the best interest of the child. Circumstances can change, however, and an order that was once appropriate may no longer serve a child’s interests. While the courts can modify child custody orders, absent an emergency, they cannot do so without providing notice to both parents, as discussed in a recent ruling issued in a Florida custody case. If you want to know what measures you can take to protect your parental rights, you should speak to a Miami child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother had a child in 2013. The father’s paternity was subsequently established via a paternity suit. The court issued a parenting plan specifying that the child would primarily live with her mother but would also spend significant time with her father. The court ordered the father to pay child support as well. In 2021, the mother requested the appointment of a parenting coordinator to help resolve disagreements between the parents regarding the child. The father agreed to the appointment. If the coordinator couldn’t resolve the issues, they had the authority to ask the court for a status hearing.

Allegedly, during one of these status conferences, the parenting coordinator requested direction from the court regarding the father’s ability to speak to the child over the telephone. The court then issued an order that placed the child in the temporary custody of the father, prohibited the mother from contacting the child, and modified the timesharing rights and communication requirements established in the final judgment of paternity. The mother was not provided prior notice of these changes. As such, she argued that the court violated her due process rights. She moved for reconsideration, but her motion was denied without a hearing. She then appealed.

Modifications of Child Custody Orders

On appeal, the court agreed with the mother. In doing so, it noted that the trial court issued an order that changed the primary residential custody of the child without providing the mother with prior notice. The court then clarified that unless there is an emergency or risk of harm to the child, a custody order cannot be modified without proper notice and an opportunity to be heard. Since the modification of the final judgment was not properly requested or noticed, the court concluded that the trial court’s order must be reversed.

Confer with a Skilled Miami Attorney

Generally, Florida courts will only modify child custody orders upon a showing of a significant and lasting change in circumstances. If you have questions about your rights with regard to custody of your child, it is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer about your options. The skilled Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess the facts of your case and help you to seek the best outcome available. Our office is located in Aventura, and we frequently represent parties in custody matters in Miami. You can reach us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to schedule a conference.