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Wrongful Conduct of the Custodial Parent

A recent case worth reading about….

35 Fla. L. Weekly D504a

Dissolution of marriage — Modification — Time-sharing plan — Contempt — Trial court properly entered order holding former wife in contempt for violating order on time-sharing and modifying time-sharing plan — Trial court did not err by entering as final judgment proposed final judgment prepared by husband’s attorney where parties were provided with opportunity to submit proposed orders, judge modified proposed order by deleting all paragraphs that would have awarded former husband primary residential responsibility and paragraphs ordering wife’s counsel to personally pay opposing attorney’s fees, judge participated actively in hearing, and judge made preliminary oral findings at conclusion of contempt hearing — No abuse of discretion in concluding that unsupervised visitation was warranted, especially in light of judge’s belief that wife would not “facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship” with child’s father — Additionally, wife’s wrongful conduct justified decision to have her pay summer transportation costs and doctor’s fees.

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Case Summary:

4th District Court case appealed Broward County family Judge Michael Kaplan’s ruling; the appellate court found acrimonious litigation, where: “… neither parent was acting in the child’s best interest.”

Court ordered… the goal of reunification with the father had been thwarted by “the willful actions” of the other parent “individually and through her counsel”;… the court ordered “substantial, the other party (as apparently denied timesharing without cause) to pay the other side’s attorneys fees..

The court may make preliminary Findings at the contempt hearing, ostensibly to guide the parties in drafting a proposed orders. The court found that this did not violate Perla versus Bergman 875 So.2d 383, 390 (Fla. 2004);

Subsec. 61.13 (4)(c.)6, Fla. Stat. (2008) allows a court, “upon the request of the parent who did not violate the timesharing schedule, to modify the parenting plan if modification is in the best interest of the child”

The appellate court found that the wrongful conduct also justified the trial court’s decision to have the parent (with wrongful conduct), to pay summer transportation costs and doctors fees. See section 61.13 (4) (C.) Fla. Stat. 2008 and Robinson-Wilson the Wilson 932 So.2d 330 (Fla 4th DCA 2006) indicating that a court power to sanction under section 61.1 3 (4) (C) “is triggered by the wrongful conduct of the custodial parent.”)

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