Child Custody and Visitation in Jupiter, Florida

In a child custody and visitation case, a court is not bound by an agreement of parents regarding child support, custody, or visitation. In Puglisi v. Puglisi, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D725 (Fla. 5th DCA April 17 2014) the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: “It is well recognized that ‘[a] court is not bound by an agreement of parents regarding child support, custody, or visitation.’ Trang NgoanLev. Tung Phuong Nguyen, 98 So. 3d 600, 601 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012); see also Lane v. Lane, 599 So. 2d 218, 219 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992) (‘It is undisputed, and should be indisputable, that a trial court’s responsibility to the child cannot be abdicated to any parent, any expert. That heavy responsibility mandates that a court is not bound by any agreement between parents, nor by the opinions of any expert or group of experts.’). The ‘best interests’ of the child takes predominance over any agreement between the parents and must be independently determined by the trial court. See Feliciano v. Feliciano, 674 So. 2d937 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (confirming that trial court is not bound by agreement regarding child support, custody and visitation where it determines that is not in best interests of children); Jones v. Jones, 674 So. 2d 770, 774 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996) (reiterating that ‘best interests of the children are to govern custody decision, regardless of any stipulation between the parties’)… 

In Jones, this Court remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the children’s best interests where the father moved to set aside a custody stipulation prior to entry of final judgment. This Court explained: Because the father had, prior to the final hearing, moved the court to set aside the parties’ custody stipulation and the temporary order, the court had an obligation at the final hearing to determine the best interests of the children. Although the court initially approved the agreement, it should have allowed the father to proceed to hearing pre-judgment on his motion to modify the agreement to insure that the children’s best interests were being met.” 

To speak with a divorce lawyer in Jupiter, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273. 

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