FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Orange County, Margaret H.
M. Plaut, of Law Office of Tanya M. Plaut, Edgewater, for
Appearance for Appellee.
Haywood F/K/A Michele Bacon (Mother) appeals the supplemental
final judgment modifying child visitation and child
support as set forth in the final judgment that
dissolved her marriage to Richard Bacon (Father). Because the
trial court failed to allow Mother to complete the
presentation of her case at the evidentiary hearing, we
parties' marriage was dissolved on January 24, 2012. They
have three children: D.B., Z.B., and C.B. D.B. reached the
age of majority during the proceedings. In the original
parenting plan, the parties agreed that the minor children
would reside primarily with Mother and would visit Father on
alternate weekends, half of Winter Break, Spring Break, and
seven weeks during Summer Break. Despite the agreement, D.B.
resided primarily with Father.
point, D.B. returned to live with Mother. Soon thereafter,
Z.B. and C.B. expressed a desire to live primarily with
Father. Father filed a supplemental petition to modify the
final judgment of dissolution alleging that a substantial
change in circumstances had occurred since the entry of final
judgment. His allegations were based primarily on serious
behavioral issues and the minor children's performance at
school. Mother filed an answer and counter-petition, denying
Father's allegations. A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) was
appointed to represent the minor children. After conducting
an investigation and meeting with all of the parties
involved, the GAL filed her report recommending that the
children reside primarily with Father.
the parties, with the assistance of the appointed GAL,
entered into an agreement modifying the parenting plan by
agreeing that the two minor children should reside primarily
with Father. The agreement resolved the parenting plan issues
presented in the parties' respective petitions for
the minor children, ages fifteen and seventeen, initially
expressed a desire to reside with Father, they changed their
minds after their parents agreed to the new parenting
plan. As a result, Mother, with the assistance
of new counsel, filed a motion to set aside the new parenting
plan, arguing, inter alia, that she was coerced into
agreeing to the new parenting plan by her former counsel and
the GAL. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court
denied her motion. However, because Mother no longer believed
that the new parenting plan was in the children's best
interest, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing to
make that determination.
hearing, the trial court terminated the proceedings during
Mother's cross-examination of the GAL and failed to
permit her to present rebuttal evidence. This was error.
Entering a final order without allowing a party to complete
presenting evidence generally constitutes a denial of due
process. Bielling v. Bielling, 188 So.3d 980, 981
(Fla. 1st DCA 2016) (citing Julia v. Julia, 146
So.3d 516, 520 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) ("Even if [a] trial
court believes that recalling . . . witnesses would not make
any further impression on the court, it [is] still required
to allow the [party] to present [his/her] case fully . . .
.")); Cole v. Cole, 159 So.3d 124, 125-26 (Fla.
3d DCA 2013), as corrected (Dec. 18, 2013)
(reiterating that the "right to be heard includes the
right to 'introduce evidence at a meaningful time and in
a meaningful manner.'" (quoting Baron v.
Baron, 941 So.2d 1233, 1236 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006)));
Miller v. Miller, 671 So.2d 849, 851 (Fla. 5th DCA
1996) (finding trial court erred when it prohibited parties
from cross-examining GAL during modification proceeding).
Thus, we reverse the supplemental final judgment of
modification as to the parenting plan and remand for further
proceedings. In all other respects, we affirm.
in part; REVERSE, in part; and REMAND for further
ORFINGER, BERGER and ...