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While the Florida courts typically strive to maintain relationships between parents and their children, in some instances, they determine that it is in a child’s best interest to grant permanent guardianship rights to someone other than the child’s parent. While it is within the courts’ discretion to do so, they must set forth written orders adequately explaining their reasoning. If they do not, their orders might be subject to challenge, as illustrated in a recent Florida case. If you have questions about what measures you can take to protect your parental rights, it is prudent to speak to a Miami child custody attorney regarding your options.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the child was under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families. The trial court subsequently terminated the Department’s supervision and placed the child in a permanent guardianship. The child’s father appealed the trial court’s ruling, arguing that it was not supported by competent evidence and that the order failed to set forth specific factual findings.

Statutory Requirements for Orders Granting Permanent Guardianship

On appeal, the court agreed with the father in part but affirmed the order to the extent that it placed the child in permanent guardianship, as it found the decision was supported by competent evidence. The court explained that the Florida Statutes require that a written order placing a child in permanent guardianship must set forth the reasons or circumstances why a child’s parents are deemed unfit to care for the child and why reunification between the child and parents is not possible. In doing so, the trial court must either make separate findings of fact or refer to specific factual findings in its order adjudicating the child dependent. Continue reading ›

It goes without saying that people do not have to be romantically involved in order to conceive a child, and in some instances, friends will choose to embark on the journey of parenthood together. When people who are not married or a couple use unorthodox means to conceive a child, it may confound the courts with regard to defining parental rights, however. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, in which the court overruled a trial court order denying a father’s request for timesharing due to the fact that the child in question was conceived via artificial insemination. If you want to establish your right to custody or timesharing, it is in your best interest to talk to a Miami child custody attorney about your options.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father, who were friends, decided to conceive a child via an at-home artificial insemination process. A few years after the child was born, the father filed a petition to establish paternity and to have timesharing rights. In the mother’s answer to the petition, she acknowledged the father’s paternity and agreed that the court should establish a parenting plan and a timesharing schedule.

Allegedly, the trial court entered a temporary order granting the father timesharing rights. Eighteen months after the filing of the petition, the trial court held a hearing, after which the court issued a final judgment in which it noted that the father had been a constant presence in the child’s life and that both parties put the child’s interests ahead of their own and were flexible with regard to time sharing. Regardless, the trial court denied the father’s petition on the grounds that Florida’s law regarding assisted reproductive technology barred it from granting the father’s request. The father appealed. Continue reading ›

While courts typically conducted family law hearings in person prior to 2020, since the COVID-19 pandemic, many proceedings have been held via video-teleconferencing. Regardless of whether hearings are conducted in person or over the internet, parties impacted by such hearings have certain rights, and if the court violates their rights, any rulings issued during the proceeding may be reversed. This was demonstrated recently in a Florida opinion issued in a divorce case in which the court ruled that the trial court infringed on the wife’s due process rights by ruling on matters in her absence. If you or your spouse wish to end your marriage, it is important to understand your rights and obligations, and you should talk to a Miami divorce attorney promptly.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 2002 and had two minor children. They subsequently divorced, and in 2016, the trial court entered a final judgment dissolving their marriage. The trial court also appointed a parenting coordinator and guardian ad litem to help resolve other issues. The parties later filed multiple post-dissolution motions, seeking enforcement of the final judgment, contempt, and psychological evaluations.

Allegedly, the court scheduled a hearing for June 2021 to address certain financial issues. The court conducted the hearing over Zoom and, prior to commencing, confirmed it would only cover the issues previously indicated. The trial court stated it was going to order the wife to pay her share of the children’s tuition, after which she logged off. She logged back on ten minutes later, only to log off again when the court restated its intent. The court later ordered the wife to pay the husband the cost of the parenting coordinator’s fees in the wife’s absence. The wife appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida child custody matters, the court’s paramount concern is always what is in the best interest of the child that is the focus of the case. Thus, any time a party proposes a modification of a parenting plan, the courts must assess whether the change sought will benefit the child; if the court finds that it will not or that it may harm the child, it will generally deny the request. Recently, a Florida court discussed the process of analyzing whether a modification is in a child’s best interest in a child custody case. If you share custody of a child and you or your co-parent intend to seek a modification, it is prudent to confer with a Miami child custody attorney to evaluate your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Allegedly, almost a decade after coming to an agreement regarding shared parental rights of two minor children, the mother and the father each filed motions seeking modification of the parenting plan. The father argued that the children, who were both teenagers at the time, suffered from parental alienation syndrome (PAS) and offered a social investigation report and numerous articles in support of his position.

Reportedly, to mitigate the PAS, the father asked the court to enroll the children in therapy, and to the extent that proved ineffective, sought a modification of his child support obligation and increased timesharing rights. In response, the mother sought an increase in child support and a decrease in the father’s timesharing rights, or in the alternative, enrollment in a family-based reunification program. The trial court ordered the children to participate in a reunification program and granted the father exclusive custody of the children, concluding without elaborating that participation in the program was in the children’s best interest. The mother appealed. Continue reading ›

Courts presiding over Florida family law cases will often make oral pronouncements regarding their decisions on disputed issues during hearings and later reduce the terms of their pronouncement to writing. Issues can arise, however, when a written order issued by a court conflicts with its earlier oral pronouncement. In such cases, as explained in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce matter, the oral pronouncement will generally prevail. If you or your spouse intend to file a petition for dissolution, it is wise to meet with a Miami divorce attorney to determine what measures you can take to protect your interests.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife divorced in 2018. The year prior to their divorce, they filed a joint income tax return and received a refund in excess of $150,000. The refund, which was deposited into the wife’s attorney’s trust account, included a credit for overpayment carried over from the husband’s and wife’s previous joint return.

Allegedly, during an evidentiary hearing, the husband argued he was entitled to half of the credit for overpayment on the grounds that it was marital property subject to equitable distribution. The trial court agreed and orally granted the husband half of the overpayment. In the written order it issued on the matter, though, the trial court allocated all of the money in the wife’s attorney’s trust account to other parts of the entitlement award. The husband appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by issuing a written order that conflicted with its oral pronouncement. Continue reading ›

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It is not uncommon for people to want to move from Florida to another state for personal or professional reasons. While people are generally free to do so, if they share custody of a child, their co-parents may object to the child’s relocation. Further, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, people with time-sharing and access rights can voice concerns about a child’s relocation, even if their parentage has not been established. If you have questions about child relocation, it is smart to talk to a Miami child custody attorney promptly.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the mother and putative father, who were both married to other people, agreed to have a child together. After the child was born, the mother and her wife were listed as the child’s parents on the birth certificate, but the mother gave the child the putative father’s last name. The mother and the wife ultimately separated, and the mother moved in with the putative father and his husband.

Allegedly, the mother then left the child in the custody of the putative father for four months so that she could pursue an employment opportunity in another country. While abroad, the mother became engaged to a member of the military. She later returned to Miami to live with the putative father, but when he found out she was pregnant, he asked her to move out. The mother filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in which she alleged that the putative father was the child’s biological father and asked the court to amend the birth certificate. In response, the putative father filed a petition to determine paternity and to enjoin the mother from relocating with the child. The mother filed a petition to relocate with the child, which the court denied. The mother appealed. Continue reading ›

It is a common practice for the Florida courts to issue orders in family law cases that impose obligations to pay child support or alimony. Additionally, to ensure that such obligations are upheld, the courts must issue a separate income withholding order. Recently, a Florida court discussed income withholding orders in a matter in which the wife objected to the trial court vacating an existing income withholding order. If you have questions concerning alimony, it is wise to confer with a dedicated Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Underlying Case

It is reported that the wife and husband divorced, and the court ordered the husband to pay alimony. In 2021, the husband moved for a modification of his obligation. The court granted the husband’s motion and issued an amended income withholding order. The wife appealed the trial court’s ruling, arguing that it erred by issuing the order without notice or granting her an opportunity to be heard. As the appeal was pending, the trial court vacated the income withholding order but did not enter a new order. The wife asserted that this was improper under Florida law as well. The husband did not pay any alimony during the pendency of the appeal.

Income Withholding Orders in Florida Family Law Cases

The court noted that the wife’s reasoning was correct and remanded the matter to the trial court, directing it to enter a new income withholding order. In its opinion, the court noted that the trial court was mandated to do so by Florida Statutes. Specifically, the law dictates that when entering an order establishing, modifying, or enforcing an obligation for child support, alimony, or both, unless the order is temporary, the court must enter a separate order for income withholding unless one has already been entered. Continue reading ›

Divorce can leave one party in a precarious financial situation. In many divorces, then, a person will seek alimony from their spouse. In evaluating whether alimony is warranted, the courts will look at not only if the party seeking alimony can demonstrate their need but also if the other party has the ability to pay. If either party’s economic circumstances change after a court enters an order granting alimony, the court may grant a modification. Recently, a Florida court discussed the factors considered in determining whether to terminate alimony in a case in which it upheld the trial court’s ruling. If you are considering ending your marriage and want to learn more about alimony, it is smart to meet with an experienced Miami divorce attorney.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife divorced in 2008. Their marital settlement agreement was incorporated into the final judgment of divorce. Among other things, the agreement dictated that the husband was to pay the wife $3,000 in alimony per month until the wife remarried, the husband reached the age of 65, or either party died. It stated that the obligation could be modified, but an increase in the wife’s income did not constitute grounds for a modification.

Allegedly, the husband filed a petition for modification in 2016 after he lost his job. The wife filed a motion for enforcement and contempt, as the husband had ceased paying alimony when he was terminated. There was no activity in the case until 2019, when the wife filed a second motion. The husband then filed a second petition for modification or termination. The case proceeded to trial, after which the court found that the husband had demonstrated a substantial and material change in circumstances and suspended his obligation until his ability to pay was restored. The wife then appealed. Continue reading ›

Co-parents often disagree over the terms of their shared custody of a child or what constitutes an appropriate amount of child support. As such, in many instances, they will rely on the courts to define their rights and obligations. A party’s situation may change over time, though, and what was once an appropriate order defining custody and child support may need to be modified. Parties that disagree with modifications have the right to appeal, but generally, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case, if a court’s ruling is supported by substantial evidence, it will be upheld. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is advisable to consult a skilled Miami child support lawyer promptly.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father had a child in 2016. Prior to the birth of the child, the parties acknowledged the father’s paternity and developed a parenting plan. The trial court subsequently entered a final judgment of paternity in which it incorporated and ratified the parenting plan the parties agreed upon. Two years after the child’s birth, the father filed a petition to modify child support and the parenting plan. The court granted the father’s petition, and the mother appealed.

Grounds for Upholding Orders Modifying Child Support and Custody

On appeal, the trial court’s ruling was upheld. The court noted that the trial court entered its order granting the father’s petition for modification following a seven-day trial during which it considered evidence from the parties and their experts. Further, the order, which was thirty-four pages, set forth explicit findings of fact that were supported by evidence that was substantial and competent, and thoroughly analyzed the statutory factors of Florida Statute 61.13, which guide the courts in determining what is in a child’s best interest. Continue reading ›

It is not uncommon for people who live and work in Florida to maintain citizenship in the United States and other countries. This can present challenges when it comes to co-parenting and custody disputes, however, as dual citizens often wish to move back to their native country while maintaining their rights to custody and visitation. As demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, while parents have the right to make such requests, they should not expect their co-parents to share the significant costs associated with sharing custody internationally. If you have questions about your parental rights and obligations with regard to custody, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Miami child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father met in 2016 and had a child together in 2017. The father lived and worked in the United States but was a dual citizen of Belgium and the United States. The parties lived together initially, but the mother and child moved out eventually. The father did not maintain a relationship with the child until 2019. He lost his job in 2020 due to the pandemic and moved back to Belgium.

Reportedly, the father only returned to the United States once in 2021 so that he could visit the child. At that time, he filed a petition to establish visitation and child support. The father sought to have the child visit him in Belgium twice a year, but the mother argued that neither she nor the father could afford the cost of the travel. She requested child support as well. The trial court held a hearing but did not make any findings. It then sought proposed final judgments from both parties and adopted the father’s judgment, which among other things, ordered the mother to pay half of the cost of transporting the child to Belgium and granted the mother $148 per month in child support. The mother appealed. Continue reading ›