In a Modification of Child Custody & Visitation proceeding, Courts are required to keep in mind the fact that a parent has a constitutionally protected right to a meaningful relationship with his or her children and timesharing privileges should not be denied to either parent as long as the parent conducts himself or herself, while in the presence of the children, in a manner which will not adversely affect the children. In Fay v. Fay, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated that in order for any restrictions or limitations on custody and visitation to be put into effect by the court, there must be there must be competent, substantial evidence in the record that these restrictions are in the best interests of the children before those restrictions will be sustained. It is the court’s responsibility to ensure that an appropriate relationship is maintained between parents and their children, and that responsibility cannot be abdicated to any parent or expert. The trial court cannot delegate its authority to another person to rule on the custody and visitation details. A parent’s visitation rights may not be conditioned on the payment of the parent’s financial obligations.
In Fay v. Fay, the Florida Court of Appeal went on to state that when a court exercises its discretion to reduce or eliminate custody or visitation, the court must set forth specific steps a parent Modification of Child Custody & Visitation must take to reestablish time-sharing in order to let the parent know what is expected of him or her. Courts have an obligation to identify concrete steps in the final judgment that the parent must take to reestablish time-sharing.
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