Florida Court Discusses Orders Changing Parental Time-Sharing Rights

When a couple with minor children decides to end their marriage, they will typically be granted joint custody rights.  In some cases, however, the court will grant one parent will be greater custody rights at first. Subsequent changes in the parties’ situations are common, though, and will typically inspire the court to modify the custody order and grant the other parent primary custody of the child. A Florida court recently considered whether a modification order that transfers the majority of parental time from one parent to the other must contain provisions that allow for the other parent to take measures to restore significant time sharing rights. If you are fighting for custody of your child, it is in your best interest to consult a dedicated Florida child custody lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Factual Background

Allegedly, the mother and father separated in 2015. The mother was awarded the majority of parental time with the couple’s minor child under the terms of the divorce decree. The father requested a change in the parenting arrangement in 2019. The adjustment was granted by the court, resulting in the father receiving the majority of parenting time.

Reportedly, the mother admitted that a major change in circumstances happened that necessitated a change in custody and did not object to the provisions of the supplemental order’s time-sharing arrangement. Despite this, the mother filed an appeal, claiming that the court erred by neglecting to specify what steps she could take to reclaim significant parenting rights.

Orders Changing Parental Time-Sharing Rights

The court noted on appeal that Florida case law was mixed on whether a modification of custody order must include measures allowing a parent to restore significant rights. Three of the districts specifically declared that when a trial court limits or refuses a parent’s time-sharing rights, the court must specify the actions the parent can take to be granted significant time with the kid. However, two of the districts ruled that the Florida Statutes did not require or authorize the courts to impose such terms.

The appellate court eventually decided that while failing to specify such measures in an order was not an error, it was also not illegal because the applicable legislation did not expressly authorize the courts to do so. Instead, the court decided that whether or not to include them in an order or judgment defining or altering custody was a matter for the courts to decide.

The court explained that a court’s decision to impose benchmarks or comparable measures in a time-sharing order is regulated by the norms of fairness rather than the rigorous rule of law, based on the legislative purpose and history of case law interpreting Florida’s family law legislation. As a result, the trial court’s failure to add such restrictions was not considered to be an error or an abuse of discretion by the court.

Consult with an Experienced Miami Child Custody Lawyer

Orders modifying custody rights can have lasting repercussions, and it is crucial for anyone involved in custody dispute to seek the advice of a competent attorney. The experienced Miami family law attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are mindful of the importance of obtaining favorable outcomes in custody disputes, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly to help you seek your desired outcome. Our office is in Aventura, and we frequently represent parties in custody proceedings in Miami. You can contact us via our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.


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