Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Procedure

Knowing family law also means knowing the procedural rules the court has to follow in family law cases. On a basic level, the law requires that all parties be given notice of the proceedings and the right to be heard. In examining the appellate case Pinnock v. Whyte, 209 So.3d 71 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016) we understand where a Miami family court went wrong in failing to give a party the right to be heard. 

The father in this case filed a petition for paternity and the mother filed an answer. Following a mediation in which the parties settled some issues and left the rest for trial, the court entered an order setting a final hearing or a status conference. The order to appear for the hearing stated that if an answer had been filed, the hearing would serve as a status conference. 

Both parties appeared at the hearing and the court conducted a final hearing rather than a status conference as stated in the order to appear.  After this, the mother filed a motion for rehearing which the trial court denied. 

On appeal, the court found that the trial court made an error in conducting a final hearing instead of the status conference noted in the order. Because of the wording of the order, the appellate court reasoned the mother's due process rights were violated because she was not on notice that a final hearing would occur. 

This case illustrates the importance of preserving your appellate rights by raising the proper objections at the right time. Having an experienced Miami family law attorney by your side can help you do so.