Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, WEST PALM BEACH, WELLINGTON, BOCA RATON561-328-1111
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Child Custody and Visitation Archives

Child Custody Decisions & Visitation in Florida

A Court is not bound by an agreement between the parties nor by opinions of experts concerning time-sharing. "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 experts or group of experts." Lane v. Lane, 599 So. 2d 218, 219 (Fla. 4th DCA \992); see Feliciano v. Feliciano, 674 So. 2d 937 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (confirming that a trial court is not bound by an agreement regarding child support, custody, and visitation where it determines that it is not in the best interests of the children). As noted by the reviewing court in Jones v. Jones, 674 So. 2d 770, 774 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), the "best interests of the children are to govern the child custody decisions, regardless of any stipulation between the parties." Sparks v. Sparks.

Child Custody & Visitation - Marital Settlement Agreements in Florida

The trial court may disregard the parent's agreed upon time-sharing agreement, if it is not in the best interests of the children. "Prior to entry of the final judgment, the former wife filed a motion to set aside the MSA and parenting plan, alleging that the MSA was invalid and unenforceable because...As to the parenting plan, the former wife alleged that it was no longer in the children's best interests to reside with the former husband...A court is not bound by an agreement of parents regarding child support, custody, or visitation. Higgins v. Higgins, 945 So. 2d 593, 596 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006). As our sister court stated: '[i]t 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.' Lane v. Lane, 599 So. 2d 218, 219 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992); see Feliciano v. Feliciano, 674 So. 2d 937 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (confirming that trial court is not bound by agreement regarding child support, custody, and visitation where it determines that it is not in best interests of children). Instead, the trial court is required to 'determine all matters relating to parenting and time-sharing of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child....' §61.13(2)(c), Fla. Stat. (2010); see Jones v. Jones, 674 So. 2d 770, 774 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996) (reiterating that 'best interests of the children are to govern the custody decision, regardless of any stipulation between the parties'). Le v. Nguyen, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D1604 (Fla. 5th DCA July 6, 2012)

Child Custody & Visitation in Palm Beach County, Florida

Child Custody & Visitation - Delegation of Decision Making Authority in Florida

A court cannot delegate parental decision making authority to a third party. "In the event of a deadlock between the parents regarding these issues, the dispute must be presented to the trial court for resolution in accordance with the child's best interests. Gerencser v. Mills, 4 So. 3d 22, 23 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009); Sotnick v. Sotnick, 650 So. 2d 157, 160(Fla. 3d DCA 1995); Tamari v. Turko-Tamari, 599 So. 2d 680, 681 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992). It is error for the trial court to delegate the ultimate decision as to visitation and other issues to a third party. Lovell v. Lovell, 14 So. 3d 1111, 1114 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009). Here, the provisions improperly allow former husband's parents to resolve a dispute between the parties." Schwieterman v. Schwieterman 

Child Custody And Visitation in Palm Beach County, Florida

When there is a custody dispute between a parent and a third party custody should only be denied to the natural parent when an award of custody to the natural parent would be detrimental to the child. "When the custody dispute is between a natural parent and a third party, however,...custody should be denied to the natural parent only when such an award will, in fact, be detrimental to the welfare of the child. In re Guardianship of D.A.McW., 460 So. 2d 368, 369-70 (Fla. 1984); see Richardson v. Richardson, 766 So. 2d 1036, 1039 (Fla. 2000) (holding that where a parent seeks to modify a third party custody award the test to be applied is whether the parent is fit and whether a change in custody will be detrimental to the child)...See Bateman v. Johnson, 818 So. 2d 569, 571 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) (defining detriment as \"more than the normal trauma caused to a child by uprooting him from familiar surroundings such as often occurs by reason of divorce, death of a parent or adoption...the change in custody would have to be likely to produce mental, physical, or emotional harm of a lasting nature\") (citations omitted)." Slover v. Meyer.

Child Custody And Visitation in Palm Beach County, Florida

Child Custody & Visitation - in Florida A Court is not bound by an agreement between the parties nor by opinions of experts concerning time-sharing. "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 experts or group of experts." Lane v. Lane, 599 So. 2d 218, 219 (Fla. 4th DCA \992); see Feliciano v. Feliciano, 674 So. 2d 937 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (confirming that a trial court is not bound by an agreement regarding child support, custody, and visitation where it determines that it is not in the best interests of the children). As noted by the reviewing court in Jones v. Jones, 674 So. 2d 770, 774 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), the "best interests of the children are to govern the custody decision, regardless of any stipulation between the parties." Sparks v. Sparks.

Child Custody and Visitation in Martin County, Florida

In a child custody and visitation proceeding, a Court may exercise home state jurisdiction if at any time during the six months preceding the filing of the petition, Florida was the child's home state. In Barnes v. Barnes the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "This court has concluded that section 61.514(1)(a) permits the exercise of home state jurisdiction if, at any time during the six months preceding the filing of the custody proceeding, Florida qualified as the child's home state. Sarpel v.Eflanli, 65 So. 3d 1080,1084 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011)...

Child Custody And Visitation in Palm Beach County, Florida

It is not in a child's best interests to rotate schools. "In Langford v. Ortiz, 654 So. 2d 1237, 1238 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995), this court similarly held that it was not in the best interest of the child to require the child, who was in the second grade, to rotate schools at the beginning of December and the beginning of June every year. This court noted that attending two different schools during the school year would be 'a disruption in this young girl's academic and personal life, no matter how much her parents work to smooth the transition.' Id.; see Bainbridge v. Pratt, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D1699 (Fla. 1st DCA Aug. 4, 2011)" Otto-Jones v. Jones

Child Custody And Visitation in Palm Beach County, Florida

If a petitioner meets the burden of proving that the abduction or removal was wrongful, any child who was wrongfully removed is to be promptly returned, unless the respondent can establish an affirmative defense. "If a petitioner meets the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the removal was wrongful, any children who were wrongfully removed 'are to be promptly returned unless one of the narrow exceptions set forth in the Convention applies.' 42 U.S.C. § 11601(a)(4); see also 42 U.S.C. § 11603(e)(1)(A) (setting forth preponderance of the evidence standard for proving that the child has been wrongfully removed). Thus, if the child is wrongfully removed, then the child must be returned to his or her state of habitual residence unless the respondent can establish an affirmative defense." See Furnes v. Reeves.

Child Custody And Visitation In Palm Beach County, Florida

Under Article 3 of the Hague Convention, a person may file a petition for the return of the child in any court which is authorized to exercise its jurisdiction in the place where the child is located at the time that the petition is filed. " Article 3 of the Hague Convention provides that the removal of a child is wrongful where it is in breach of the rights of custody of another person, and those rights were actually being exercised or would have been exercised but for the removal. See Hague Convention, art. 3. A person may file a petition under the Convention for the return of a child "in any court... which is authorized to exercise its jurisdiction in the place where the child is located at the time the petition is filed." 42 U.S.C. § 11603(b)." Wigley v. Hares

Child Custody And Visitation In Palm Beach County, Florida

Under Article 3 of the Hague Convention, a person may file a petition for the return of the child in any court which is authorized to exercise its jurisdiction in the place where the child is located at the time that the petition is filed.  In Wigley v. Hares, the Florida Court of Appeal stated...

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