The ‘Birds and the Bees’The parents have four children: three daughters and one son, and they have been divorced since 2018. They were awarded joint legal custody of the four children with a split: One parent had the boy, and the other parent had the three girls In 2021, Father asked to change legal residence, parenting time, and custody relative to EJ and JJ, requesting that the trial court award him primary physical custody of the two children and that the court change their legal residence from Petoskey to his home in Plymouth, Michigan. The Mother opposed the motion. During an evidentiary the Father introduced several exhibits, including a recorded conversation between the Mother and the three daughters indicating that she had inappropriate conversations with the children, had difficulties controlling her anger, used vulgarities and profanity in conversations with the children, and consumed an excessive amount of alcohol during parenting time. After the evidentiary hearing, the referee recommended that the trial court deny the motion. The Father filed an objection which was heard by the trial judge in a de novo hearing. The Father argued he was not given sufficient time to present evidence necessary to meet the burden of proof, that the referee should have found that there was a joint custodial environment, and that it was in the children’s best interests to change custody. The trial court granted Father’s motion and awarded him primary physical custody. The Mother appealed.
Florida Modifying CustodyI have written about modification of child custody before. In Florida, during the initial child custody case, a family court must determine the best interest of a child based upon all of the factors listed in our child custody statute.
After determining the best interest of the child, and entering a child custody decree, Florida law grants continuing jurisdiction to the family court to modify the custody order but does not state the conditions necessary for modification.Modification is based, in Florida, on the substantial change test. A party seeking a modification must prove a substantial and material change in circumstances, and that the best interests of the child will be promoted by such modification.