Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Family Law Procedure

Once again, we see due process in action in Florida family law in the case Walters v. Petgrave, 4D18-446 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). When the trial court in this case denied the mother the opportunity to present her case and then ruled based on the mother not presenting evidence, she appealed the trial court's final judgment. 

The trial record established that although the parties' final hearing was set for one day, the court allowed the parties to return for a second day to finish their trial. Although the trial court represented to the mother that she would have the opportunity to put on witnesses and evidence, the court changed its mind and asserted that due to time limits, the parties could only present closing arguments. 

The trial court then entered a final judgment, basing its ruling in part on the mother presenting no evidence and no witnesses to rebut certain claims made by the father. The appellate court ruled this was a clear error, holding it was a violation of the mother's due process rights to deny her the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses.  Specifically, the appellate court ruled, "Based on the court's precluding the mother from presenting her case-in-chief, it is unknown whether the mother could have presented testimony which may have addressed [the issues raised by the father and relied upon by the trial court to enter its judgment]"

To protect your due process rights, consult with a Miami family law attorney to determine the best way to proceed in your Miami family law case. A consultation can help you understand what steps should be taken on your behalf before, during and after a hearing to protect your best interest.