FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County, Nick
Lawrence J. Hodz of Cortes Hodz Family Law & Mediation,
P.A., Tampa, for Appellant.
Jessica C. Tien of Tien Law Group, Tampa, for Appellee.
Munoz, the former husband, appeals the circuit court's
orders modifying timesharing and establishing child support
and arrears concerning his minor children, A.M. and C.M. Mr.
Munoz came before the circuit court on his supplemental
petition to modify a default final judgment entered on
January 8, 2008, which had awarded Paulina Munoz, his former
wife, sole parental responsibility and timesharing with A.M.
and C.M. In response to the modification petition,
Ms. Munoz filed a petition to establish child support and
retroactive child support against Mr. Munoz. A trial was held
on both petitions before the circuit court on February 5,
2016. The court entered its orders on March 2, 2016, and Mr.
Munoz timely appealed.
the absence of a transcript from the trial prevents us from
addressing many of the issues Mr. Munoz raises on appeal,
because there are errors that are plain on the face of the
order modifying timesharing, we are compelled to reverse
those portions of the circuit court's order. See
Ivanovich v. Valladarez, 190 So.3d 1144, 1147 (Fla. 2d
DCA 2016) (citing Soto v. Soto), 974 So.2d 403, 404
(Fla. 2d DCA 2007). The progressive, three-phase daytime
timesharing schedule the circuit court fashioned to
reintegrate Mr. Munoz in his daughters' lives improperly
vests the decision-making authority as to when Mr. Munoz can
proceed into the second and third phases solely with a
therapist. The order also gives Ms. Munoz sole discretion, at
any time, to choose to replace this therapist, which was also
an improper delegation of the court's authority. Third,
and perhaps most troubling, the order fails to resolve
whether Mr. Munoz will ever be entitled to overnight,
unrestricted timesharing with his minor children, if or when
he completes the third phase of this schedule. Taken
together, these errors, which are clear from the face of the
order, constituted reversible error.
explained in Grigsby v. Grigsby, 39 So.3d 453,
456-57 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010):
"Although termination of visitation rights is
disfavored, . . . the trial court has discretion to restrict
or deny visitation when necessary to protect the welfare of
the children." Hunter v. Hunter, 540 So.2d 235,
238 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989). However, when the court exercises
this discretion, it must clearly set forth the steps the
parent must take in order to reestablish time-sharing with
the children. Id.; see also Ross v. Botha,
867 So.2d 567, 571 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004). Essentially, the
court must give the parent the key to reconnecting with his
or her children. An order that does not set forth the
specific steps a parent must take to reestablish
time-sharing, thus depriving the parent of that key, is
deficient because it prevents the parent from knowing what is
expected and prevents any successor judge from monitoring the
parent's progress. See Ross, 867 So.2d at 571.
. . . .
"Moreover, it is the trial court's responsibility to
ensure that an appropriate relationship is maintained between
a parent and his or her children, and that responsibility
cannot be abdicated to any parent or expert."
McAllister v. Shaver, 633 So.2d 494, 496 (Fla. 5th
DCA 1994); see also Letourneau v. Letourneau, 564
So.2d 270, 270 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990). Thus, a reasonable
time-sharing schedule based on the parent's individual
circumstances must be created based on the exercise of the
court's discretion, not the other parent's.
Letourneau, 564 So.2d at 270.
the order modifying timesharing violated the strictures of
Grigsby, 39 So.3d at 456-457; see also Perez v.
Fay, 160 So.3d 459, 466 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015).
we reverse those portions of the order modifying timesharing
that delegated decision-making to a therapist of Ms.
Munoz's sole approval, and that failed to describe what,
if any, timesharing Mr. Munoz would be entitled to upon
completion of the third phase. On remand, the court shall
render an order on Mr. Munoz's petition consistent with
this opinion and that sets forth requisite findings and
rulings concerning what, if any, timesharing Mr. Munoz will
have with ...