Child Custody and Visitation in West Palm Beach, Florida

A child custody and visitation issue was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Preudhomme v. Preudhomme. In this case, the Mother challenged the trial court’s timesharing determination. The Mother lived in Pensacola and the Father lived in Mobile, Alabama. During the pendency of the divorce proceeding, the parents met midway between the two cities for timesharing. The parents arranged for the child to attend preschools in both cities. The Mother asked the trial court to create a parenting plan in which she had majority timesharing and the Father was given alternating weekends and holidays and weekly rotating custody during the summer. The Father asked the trial court to continue the current timesharing schedule until the child began kindergarten. The child was scheduled to begin kindergarten approximately twenty months later. After the child started kindergarten, the Father requested that he be awarded majority timesharing when the child was in school. The Father proposed that the Mother should have timesharing during alternating holidays and weekends, and for most of the summer. The court adopted the Father’s proposed parenting plan.

Regarding the child custody and visitation issue, the appellate court pointed out that custody decisions must be supported by competent, substantial evidence. The court went on to state that lower courts have significant discretion in deciding timesharing matters. Courts of Appeal should affirm trial courts’ decisions concerning timesharing when there is substantial and competent evidence that supports the trial courts’ decisions. However, trial courts may not engage in prospective-based analyses when they create parenting plans. Trial courts are prohibited from deciding what the best interests of children will be in the future. Custody and visitation issues must be decided based on the present best interests of children because trial courts are not equipped with “crystal balls” that permit them to predict the future. The Court of Appeal stated that when the trial court in this case ruled that it was in the child’s best interest for the parents to continue rotating timesharing on a weekly basis until the child entered kindergarten, and to then grant majority timesharing to the Father, the trial court engaged in a prohibited prospective-based analysis. The appellate court reversed the trial court and sent the case back with directions to the trial court to delete that portion of the Final Judgment that was based upon future events.

To speak with a child custody and visitation attorney in West Palm Beach , Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.