Articles Tagged with Child Custody

To answer this question briefly, a biological father has no rights to a child born while the mother was married to another man, unless the mother’s husband relinquishes his parental rights through proper procedure. In Florida, the “legal father” of a child is defined as the man to whom the mother is married when the child was born and whose name appears on the birth certificate. In the case of Slowinski v. Sweeney 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1418a (Fla. 1St DCA 2013), it was undisputed that the child was born within wedlock while the mother was married to another man and that the mother’s husband was listed as the father in the child’s birth certificate. The child resided with the maternal grandmother since birth. Upon the mother’s death, the grandmother, with the legal father’s consent, filed a petition for temporary custody, pursuant to Florida Statute section 751.03, which allows an extended family member to seek temporary custody of a child.

The biological father filed a petition for determinatin of paternity in the same county as the grandmother’s action using evidenced by DNA testing to show that he is the father and that he should have custody of the child. The biological father’s paternity action was ultimately dismissed on appeal because the court considered it a “nonexistant cause of action.” The biological father next filed a motion to intervene in the grandmother’s temporary custody case. After an evidentiary hearing on his motion, the trial court allowed the biological father to intervene in the case, finding that he qualieifed as an “extended family member” because his status as a biological father made him a “relative of a minor child within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent.”

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It is important to note that any modification to a determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be achieved without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances. In addition, the modification must be in the best interests of the child. In a recent case in Moore v. Mcintosh, 39 Fla. L. Weekly 78a (Fla. 1St DCA 2014), the 1st DCA held that relocation does not itself constitute a substantial change in circumstances to warrant modification of a time-sharing agreement. The court cited several cases in which relocation did not constitute a substantial change in circumstances.

In Moore, the parties had entered into a marital settlement agreement which specifically stated that the parties anticipated to reside in close proximity to one another and in the same school district. Then, both parties relocated to different cities. The Court held that

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In order to prevent jurisdictional disputes with courts in other states on matters relating to child support and time sharing, Florida has enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Pursuant to the UCCJEA, the exercise of jurisdiction in making an initial custody determination lies with the child’s home state. “Home state” is the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a proceeding involving a child.

Many jurisdictional disputes arise when one parent decides to remove the child from Florida and move to another state with the child. Then, either one or both parents will file a petition seeking establishment of timesharing and child support in their respective states. In this instance, the courts will have to decide whether Florida or the other state has jurisdiction to preside over the case.

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