When a Florida court resolves your timesharing dispute, it is going to impose certain requirements: things that must happen and things that must not happen. One of the important things to know, especially if you are the parent who does not have majority timesharing, is that the law limits the sort of restrictions that can be placed on your timesharing. A limitation on timesharing should only be placed if it is genuinely necessary, and the court order should explain why it is needed. If it doesn’t, then you may be able to get that order overturned. For information and advice about how this and other legal rules may impact your case, be sure to contact an experienced South Florida family law attorney.
As an example, take the case of R.B. and B.T. The two lived in Austin, Texas and were in an on-and-off relationship over a period of roughly five years. The relationship produced a pregnancy and, shortly before the baby was born, the mother relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida. The father remained in Austin.
The relationship was, in the words of the court, “acrimonious” and “volatile.” After the child’s birth, the mother filed an action for paternity and requested adjudication of timesharing and child support. The father did not contest paternity. With regard to timesharing, the court ordered that the father received visitation of one weekend per month, to occur in St. Petersburg, until the child reached age five. After the child’s 5th birthday, the father was to receive two weekends per month: one in St. Petersburg and the second in St. Petersburg or Austin, whichever the father preferred.
The father appealed and his appeal was successful. The favorable appellate outcome is an important reminder for anyone caught in a timesharing dispute. Florida law gives Florida trial judges a lot of leeway when it comes to creating timesharing schedules. However, what the law also does is require judges to only install restrictions on a non-custodial parent’s timesharing that are truly necessary, and to place findings in the court order that explains why those limitations are required to facilitate effective timesharing.
In this case, the court placed major geographic limitations on the father’s visits with his child, narrowing his options to St. Petersburg or Austin after the child turned five and only St. Petersburg prior to the child’s fifth birthday. The court never received any evidence, and did not make any findings, to explain why allowing only visits in St. Petersburg or Austin was necessary. Previous cases from earlier decades have come before the appeals court with similar facts and, in each of them, the court struck down the geographic limitations on timesharing where “there was no evidence in the [court] record to support“ such restrictions.
This might sound like an excessively minute point of contention but, as is true in many family cases, even seemingly small or inconsequential matters can be worth challenging if you find yourself in a contentious relationship with the child’s other parent. When that happens, even minute errors “must be corrected to avoid unnecessary litigation,” given the risk of one parent’s possible efforts to “capitalize on” the unjustified restrictions.
Whether yours is a paternity dispute, a timesharing disagreement or some family law other issue, the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are here to help. Our attorneys provide parents and divorcing spouses with the effective representation they need to get positive results. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
Granting a Mother Relief She Didn’t Request Violated the Father’s Rights, Florida Court Decides, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Oct. 10, 2018
What It Takes to Obtain a Modification of Timesharing in Florida, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Sept. 21, 2018