Articles Posted in Child Custody

Typically, the Florida courts attempt to preserve the relationship between children and their parents. They will not do so if it could harm the child, though, and if a court determines that a parent engages in behavior that is detrimental to a child, it may sever the parent’s rights. In a recent ruling, a Florida court explained the grounds for terminating parental rights in a matter in which the mother appealed a trial court’s ruling that her parental rights should be severed.  If you need assistance protecting your parental rights, it is essential to hire a dedicated Cape Coral child custody lawyer to assist you.

The Factual Background

It is alleged that the mother had three children. The father of the two younger children sexually assaulted the oldest child, after which his rights were severed. Further, he was barred from coming within 500 feet of the mother’s house or contacting the children, pursuant to an injunction issued by the trial court.

It is reported that the oldest daughter woke up one evening and found the father attacking the mother. She tried to stop the assault, and the father hit and choked her. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) later determined that the father regularly visited the mother’s home, thereby violating the injunction. As such, DCF argued that the mother engaged in abhorrent conduct and moved to sever the mother’s parental rights. During a hearing on the issue, the mother conceded that she never ended her relationship with the father. Additionally, the evidence showed that he was regularly in the mother’s house. Thus, the court severed the mother’s rights. She then appealed. Continue reading ›

Typically, if a couple with a child ends their marriage, the Florida courts will find it in the child’s best interest to award joint custody. As such, they will often set forth an order establishing a parenting plan and defining when each parent has physical custody of the child. While either parent can request a modification of the plan, such requests will only be granted if the moving party shows that it is both in the best interest of the child and justified under the facts of the case, as demonstrated recently in a ruling set forth by a Florida court. If you have questions regarding a child custody modification, it is advisable to contact a dedicated Cape Coral child custody lawyer to discuss your alternatives.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the wife and the husband ended their marriage in 2016. Two children were born during the marriage, and the divorce decree included a parenting plan. The plan awarded the wife primary time-sharing rights and awarded the husband time-sharing every other weekend and on Wednesday nights. It also included a standard summer and holiday schedule. The husband later moved to appoint a parenting coordinator and to hold the wife in contempt for failing to abide by the parenting plan.

Reportedly, in support of his motion, the husband asserted that as he worked as a surgeon in an emergency department, it was hard for him to abide by the schedule, and the wife would not agree to modify the custody arrangement. Following a hearing, the trial court ruled that if the husband provided the wife with notice, he should be permitted to alter one of his weekends per month. The wife filed an appeal. Continue reading ›

Parents generally want what is the best for their kids and strive to raise them in a stable and loving atmosphere, but not all parents are capable of providing sufficient care. As a result, the courts may be forced to make the painful choice to terminate parental rights in some cases. Despite the fact that the parent is making progress, the court may decide to officially end the parent-child relationship in specific situations. This was proven in a recent Florida decision in which the court upheld a trial court’s judgment terminating a mother’s parental rights notwithstanding evidence that the mother had made significant improvement. If your parental rights are being challenged, it is vital that you hire a dedicated Florida child custody lawyer to help you fight for them.

The Case’s Background

Allegedly, the Florida Department of Children and Families has taken steps to terminate the mother’s parental rights over her two minor children. In order to keep her parental rights, the court devised a case plan that the mother was compelled to follow. Because the mother did not follow the plan, the court issued a final order ending her parental rights. The mother then filed an appeal.

Florida’s Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights

After considering the facts of the case, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision. The appellate court observed in its brief judgment that the mother initially failed to follow the case plan, but that she had recently begun to make improvements, according to testimony. However, the appellate court explained that there was substantial evidence to support the trial court’s decision that terminating the mother’s parental rights was in her children’s best interests. Continue reading ›

Both the child’s mother and any prospective father have the option to initiate a paternity case when the parentage of a child is uncertain. A paternity determination not only allows the father to pursue parental rights such as child custody, but it also permits the court to impose duties on the father, such as the obligation to pay child support. If a court’s ruling with regard to paterniy omits crucial material, it may be overturned, however as demonstrated by a recent Florida ruling in a paternity case. If you have questions regarding the paternity of a child, you should consult with a skilled Florida paternity attorney to discuss your options.

Procedural History of the Case

Allegedly, the mother filed a paternity lawsuit to identify the father of her child. The court eventually issued a final paternity decision, naming the father. The mother filed an appeal on numerous grounds. The court affirmed some of the trial court’s decisions without addressing the mother’s arguments, but ruled in the mother’s favor as to her remaining arguments. As such, it reversed the trial court verdict was reversed, and the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

Final Judgments in Florida Paternity Matters

The appellate court found that the trial court committed an error by failing to include a parenting plan in the record and in neglecting to attach the child support guidelines worksheet to the final decision. As such, the appellate court granted the mother’s appeal, in part. The court noted that the father admitted that the documents in question were not attached due to an oversight on his part. Regardless of whether a child support guideline worksheet is inadvertently or purposely left off of a final judgment, if it is missing, Florida law dictates that the appellate court must overturn the order granting child support. Continue reading ›

When a parent wants to clarify their custodial rights, they typically institute a custody action in the county where they and any parties affected by the action live. However, in some cases, co-parents may not be able to arrive at an agreement as to what county or state a child calls home. When such disputes arise in the Florida courts, they will generally consider a wide range of elements to decide where the child’s home is located and whether it has jurisdiction to preside over a custody dispute involving the child. In a recent Florida matter where the mother and father each filed a custody action in a different state, the court detailed what it weighs when considering whether a child is a Florida. If you are involved in a custody battle, you should consult with a Florida child custody attorney to determine your options for seeking a just outcome.

History of the Case

The mother and father reportedly spent several years in Florida with the father’s family. The couple relocated to New Jersey after the child was conceived to seek the treatment of a certain doctor. The infant was born in New York, after which the family returned to Florida. They expected to visit only for a few days, but ended up staying with the paternal grandparents for over six months. During that time, the mother visited New Jersey on several occasions to take care of her business.

The mother allegedly went to New Jersey with the child when their relationship apparently worsened. She then obtained an injunction to protect herself from domestic violence, and the father launched a paternity suit in Florida a week later. The mother filed a custody suit in New Jersey the next day, saying that under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, New Jersey had jurisdiction over the child (UCCJEA). The motion was dismissed by the trial court after a hearing. The mother then filed an appeal. Continue reading ›

When a couple with children divorces, they will typically ask the court to determine their parental rights, including how custody should be divided. Courts weigh numerous factors prior to issuing custody decisions, including whether either party engaged in acts of domestic violence. Once a family court issues a timesharing order, though, that order will dictate parental rights regardless of whether another court determines that custody should be modified due to domestic violence. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court reversed a domestic violence injunction to the extent it altered the father’s custody rights. If you have questions regarding your custody rights, it is advisable to consult an experienced Florida family law attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the wife filed for divorce in 2016. Shortly after she filed the divorce petition, she filed a petition for a domestic violence injunction against the husband. In the domestic violence petition, she set forth numerous instances where the husband threatened her with acts of violence, verbally abused her, and shoved her in the years preceding the petition.

Allegedly, the court entered a default injunction against the husband but did not include a provision regarding the parties’ timesharing of their minor children. In 2020, the court vacated the injunction and scheduled a new hearing because the husband had not received proper notice of the final hearing on the injunction. Following the hearing, the court again issued an injunction and granted the wife 100% of the timesharing rights. The husband appealed, arguing that the injunction conflicted with the family court custody order. Continue reading ›

When people argue over matters such as child custody and visitation, they will often ask a court to resolve issues pertaining to parental rights. Typically, such cases are filed in state courts in the counties in which the parties live. As federal courts have limited jurisdiction over matters that do not arise under Federal law, they rarely, if ever, have the authority to modify orders issued by state courts such as those set forth in a custody matter. The inability of a federal court to exercise jurisdiction over a state custody case was the topic of a recent ruling issued in a Florida district court in a case in which the plaintiff argued his parental rights were unduly violated. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Florida child custody lawyer regarding your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff filed an action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, asking the court for relief from an order issued by a state court that terminated his parental and visitation rights, which he asserted was entered without jurisdiction or probable cause. Specifically, he asserted that he was denied the opportunity to present evidence or garner the assistance of an attorney. The plaintiff’s complaint also alleged that his due process rights were violated and he was victimized in the State of Florida. The court ultimately denied his motion.

Federal Jurisdiction Over State Custody Matters

Upon reviewing the pleadings, the court found the plaintiff’s motion to be facially deficient. The court explained that Rule 60(d)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for judgments to be set aside for fraud on the court. A party seeking such relief, though, must establish via evidence that is convincing and clear that the adverse party obtained the verdict via fraud. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to plead any facts that established fraud in his complaint. Thus, denial of his motion was warranted. Continue reading ›

In divorce matters involving children, the courts will generally issue orders establishing the parties’ timesharing and parental responsibility rights. In doing so, the courts’ sole concern is what is in the best interest of the divorcing couples’ children. As such, custody orders are not easily disturbed, and a parent typically must show a significant change in circumstances to obtain a modification. Recently, a Florida court issued an order discussing what constitutes a change that is substantial enough to warrant an alteration of custody rights, in a matter in which the father appealed the denial of his petition for modification. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is smart to speak to a capable Florida child custody lawyer to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the husband had two children together, born in 2010 and 2012. They divorced in 2015, and the final judgment of dissolution granted them shared parental responsibility and equal timesharing. Shortly after the divorce, the wife began a relationship with another man. In 2018, the husband filed a petition for modification of the final judgment, seeking a change in timesharing and parental responsibility due to the wife’s harassment of the husband, domestic violence incidents between the wife and the boyfriend, and the wife’s interference with the husband’s custody rights.

Reportedly, the magistrate determined the husband demonstrated a significant change in circumstances, noting that the children were temporarily removed from the wife’s care in 2017 and that there was a significant history of domestic violence between the wife and the boyfriend. Thus, he recommended that the husband be named as the ultimate decision-maker on issues pertaining to the children’s health and education and to amend the timesharing to grant wife visitation every other weekend. The wife filed exceptions to the magistrate’s report and recommendations, which the circuit court granted. The husband then appealed. Continue reading ›

In divorce actions, as in other cases, the court can enter a default judgment against a party that fails to respond to a complaint. While a default judgment may be proper in a straightforward divorce action, it is not suitable in a case involving the custody of a child. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion, in which the appellate court discussed the exercise of personal jurisdiction over absent defendants and the appropriateness of a judgment by default in custody matters. If you or our spouse intend to end your marriage, it is important to understand your rights, and it is in your best interest to meet with a knowledgeable Florida divorce attorney to assess your rights.

The Underlying Action

It is reported that the parties were married in October 2015 and had one child together. They separated in March 2017, and in December 2019, the wife filed a petition for the dissolution of marriage with a minor child. At the time, the wife lived in Key West, the husband lived in Illinois, and the child lived with the husband’s family in Florida. The husband was personally served with the divorce papers by a Sheriff’s deputy in Illinois.

Allegedly, the husband did not enter an appearance or make any effort to contest the divorce. The hearing was then held in February 2020, during which a special magistrate recommended granting the wife’s petition, thereby awarding her sole custody of the child. The court subsequently entered a default judgment, dissolving the marriage and granting the wife sole custody of the child. The husband then appealed. Continue reading ›

When parents divorce, they will typically share custody of their children. In some instances, one parent will initially be granted the majority of custody time, but subsequent changes in circumstances will lead to a modification that allocates primary custody to the other parent. Recently, a Florida court addressed the issue of whether a modification order that changes the right to the majority of parenting time from one parent to another must include terms for how the other parent can regain meaningful time sharing rights. If you are involved in a dispute over custody of your child, it is critical to speak to a trusted Florida child custody attorney to discuss what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the mother and father divorced in 2015. Pursuant to the divorce decree, the mother was granted the majority of the parenting time of the couple’s minor child. In 2019, the father sought a modification of the custody arrangement. The court granted the modification, giving the majority of parenting time to the father.

It is alleged that the mother conceded that a material change in circumstances occurred that required a change in custody and did not contest the terms of the time-sharing arrangement under the supplemental order. The mother nonetheless appealed the order, arguing that the court erred in failing to set forth what steps the mother could take to regain substantial parenting rights.

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