Modification of child custody & visitation in Florida was recently discussed in a case captioned Lewis v. Juliano. In this case, the Mother appealed an order that required her to provide the Father with her physical address as a precondition to exercising timesharing. The trial court modified the parties’ timesharing schedule as a result of the Mothers’ failure to provide the Father with her physical address.
The Mother and Father were divorced in 2014. In 2016, the lower court modified the parties’ Final Judgment of Dissolution due to the Mother’s relocation to another state. The Court’s order required both parents to provide each other with their residential and mailing addresses. The Father filed a Motion for Contempt of Court as a result of the Mother’s failure to provide him with her residential and mailing addresses and for failure of the Mother to permit the child to have appropriate communication with the Father.
In July 2016, the lower court found Mother in Contempt of Court as a result of her failure to provide the Father with her address. In May 2017, the Father filed a Motion to determine the status of the child’s summer visitation since the Mother had not provided him with her address. The Father argued that the child should not travel to an undisclosed address.
The trial court granted the Father’s motion and required the Mother to disclose her address as a precondition to her exercise of summer timesharing with the child.
The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court stating that it is the public policy of the State of Florida that each child should have continuing and frequent contact with both parents and that both parents should share the responsibilities, rights and joys of raising their children. Courts are required to determine all matters relating to parenting plans in light of the best interests of the child.
Additionally, in order to modify a timesharing schedule there must be a material, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances. A trial court cannot modify a timesharing schedule as a punishment for a parent’s contemptuous conduct. A timesharing schedule may only be modified upon a showing that there is a substantial change of circumstances, it is in the best interest of the children, and the opposing party has received sufficient notice of the modification.