Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

It is important to note that if a party wants certain relief in his or her Florida family law case, that party must request the relief in pleadings. This is because the general rule is that if you do not ask for something, the court cannot award it. By asking for something in pleadings, a party is giving fair notice to the other party what to expect in the case. This rule was illustrated in the recent appellate case Ducali v. Ducali, 1D17-1002 (Fla. 1st DCA July 9, 2019).

The trial court awarded sole parental responsibility to the former husband over educational and healthcare decisions for the parties’ children. However, the former husband did not request a change in parental responsibility in his pleadings, nor was this issue tried by consent. The former wife was therefore not put on notice that this would be an issue at the trial in the case.

The appellate court determined this was error and that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding unpled relief. An issue can be tried by consent if an unpled matter is raised at a hearing with no objection from the other party. This did not happen in this case, so the appellate court reversed the decision to award sole parental responsibility.

If you are involved in a Florida child custody case, contact a Miami child custody lawyer to go over your best options. A consultation may help you understand the ins and outs of your case, with attention given to the unique aspects of your case.