Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

Although we hope that divorcing parents can have an amicable relationship for the sake of their children, this is not always the case. In extreme circumstances, one parent may put the children in the middle of conflict with the other parent to the children’s detriment. This was the case in Schot v. Schot, 4D18-1607 (Fla. 4th DCA May 29, 2019) in which the former wife appealed an order granting the former husband’s request for equal timesharing based on her exacerbation of one child’s medical condition.

In support of his petition for equal timesharing and ultimate decision-making authority for healthcare and educational decisions, the former husband cited the parties’ youngest child’s diagnosis of failure to thrive. The former husband alleged the former wife did not tell him about the diagnosis until three weeks after it was made. She further did not let him know the pediatrician’s instructions and instead told him not to feed the child at night. Despite this, “The wife told the pediatrician that the husband did not feed the children. The wife blamed the husband for the child’s failure to gain weight even though at the time of the diagnosis, the husband had exercised only three overnight visits with the child. It was undisputed that the wife took the children to doctors ninety-one times over a one-year period, including for weight checks right before and right after weekend visitations with the husband. The wife continued to bring the children in for weight checks even after the pediatrician instructed her to stop because so many weight checks were unnecessary.”

Even more troubling, the appellate opinion cites “The husband testified that the wife overfed the youngest child before exchanges and gave the child laxatives. When the husband picked up the children from stays with the wife, the youngest child’s stomach was swollen and she would have explosive diarrhea on the car ride home. According to the husband, the explosive diarrhea stopped once he initiated modification proceedings. Notably, the trial court found that it was not a coincidence that once the husband filed his petition for modification, the youngest child stopped having explosive diarrhea and began to gain weight.” The court found these circumstances sufficient to warrant a change in the time-sharing schedule combined with the former wife’s alleged behavior at time-sharing exchanges. This was over the former wife’s objection that acrimony between the parties could not form a basis for modification.

The court further held, “The parties’ inability to agree on which school the children should attend also supports modification of decision-making with respect to the children’s education. Before the marital settlement agreement and final judgment, the following occurred: the wife unilaterally enrolled the oldest child at an unlicensed school over the husband’s objection, and the child later broke her arm at the school. After the marital settlement agreement and during the pendency of the modification proceedings, the husband filed several motions regarding the children’s schooling. As a result of the motions, the trial court ordered the parties to enroll the children at a particular school. The wife called the school and made it clear she had no interest in enrolling the children there. Based on the wife’s behavior, the school determined that it would not be a ‘good fit.’ Subsequently, the husband had to file another motion, which resulted in another order specifying which school the children would attend because of the parties’ failure to agree.”

Although the court upheld the trial court’s decision to grant the former husband ultimate decision-making authority on health care and educational decisions, as well as his request for equal time-sharing, the appellate court reversed other unspecified relief in the final judgment which was not requested by the former husband in his pleadings. Schedule your consultation with a Miami child custody lawyer to go over your options for modifying your Florida final judgment.