Articles Posted in Child Custody

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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