Florida Supreme Court Rules Courts Are Not Required To Specify How A parent Can Reestablish Time-Sharing In A Final Judgment

In C.N. v. I.G.C. the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the statute governing modification of parenting plans neither authorizes nor requires a court to set forth specific steps necessary to reestablish time-sharing upon modification of a preexisting parenting plan. Prior to this ruling there were a line of cases requiring that, if a parent’s time-sharing is restricted, a court should specify what that parent would need to do to be able to regain time-sharing. The Florida Supreme Court reasoned that there was no such requirement in the applicable Florida Statutes.

“Requiring the court to give concrete steps would essentially entitle a parent to be restored to the pre-modification status quo, albeit after satisfying court-identified conditions. Such an entitlement is inconsistent with section 61.13(2)(c)11., which says that “[t]here is no presumption … for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.” It is also inconsistent with section 61.13(2)(c)2.b., which says that the “court shall order sole parental responsibility for a minor child to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the other parent if it is in the best interests of the minor child.”

And perhaps most basically, it is inconsistent with the statute’s overarching “best interests of the child” standard itself. Depending on the circumstances, it might not be reasonable for a court to attempt to devise conditions that would lead to a restoration of the pre-modification status quo. Yet the rule advocated by the mother would require the court to specify a pathway to restoration in every case.

In light of these aspects of chapter 61, a court does not err simply for finally modifying a preexisting parenting plan without giving a parent concrete steps to restore any lost time-sharing.”

While not going so far as to say that a court may not include how a parent can regain time-sharing the Florida Supreme Court stated that a Final Judgment is not deficient where it does not include how a parent can regain time-sharing.