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.
Modifying a Parenting Plan Under Florida Law
Under the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, a request to alter a parenting plan has to be introduced via a supplemental petition for modification instead of a motion. In the subject case, the appellate court stated the husband neglected to abide by the proper procedure, which it deemed a reversible error. The appellate court ruled that the trial court’s failure to impose the procedural requirements was grounds for reversal as well.
Additionally, the Florida Statutes provide that the courts must resolve all issues relating to parenting and time-sharing based on what is in the child’s best interest. Further, a modification of a time-sharing schedule necessitates the moving party to establish a material, substantial, and unforeseen change in circumstances. Here, the appellate court found the trial court neglected to conduct an analysis on either element as it was required to do under the applicable law. The appellate court also noted that the husband’s schedule did not change from the time the order in question was issued. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling.
Meet with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
In appraising whether a parenting plan should be changed, the court’s main focus is always on what is in the best interest of the child to which the plan relates. If you need assistance with a request for a modification of a parenting plan, the skillful Cape Coral child custody lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your options for seeking a just outcome. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.