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Lane v. Lane

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

July 11, 2018

Susan Lane, Appellant,
v.
Keith Lane, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County No. 13-10649, Spencer Eig, Judge.

          Abramowitz and Associates, and Jordan B. Abramowitz, for appellant.

          Kircher Law, P.A., and Peter H. Kircher, for appellee.

          Before LAGOA, FERNANDEZ, and LINDSEY, JJ.

          LAGOA, J.

         Susan Lane (the "mother") appeals from the trial court's "Order on Father's Amended Motion to Authorize Children's Enrollment at Westminster Christian School Etc.," which (1) authorizes Keith Lane (the "father") to file applications for admission of the parties' children to Westminster Christian School ("Westminster") for the 2018-2019 academic year and to enroll the children if they are accepted, and (2) denies the mother's Verified Motion for Contempt and to Compel Father to Comply with Shared Parental Responsibility. We find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion and affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The mother and father were divorced by Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage on October 13, 2015, and have two minor children, P.L., born in 2006, and M.L., born in 2007. Pursuant to the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, the parties have shared parental responsibility for their minor children. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the children attended the public schools serving the district in which the mother lived. Specifically, P.L. attended sixth grade at Palmetto Middle School, and M.L. attended fifth grade at Palmetto Elementary School. The parties disagree over where the children should attend middle school for the 2018-2019 academic year. The mother would like both children to attend Palmetto Middle School, [1] while the father would like them to attend Westminster, a private school. The father is willing to be solely responsible for the costs associated with attending Westminster.

         On March 20, 2017, the mother filed a Verified Motion for Contempt and to Compel Father to Comply with Shared Parental Responsibility (the "Motion for Contempt"), arguing that the father violated shared parental responsibility when he took the parties' son to Westminster, without the mother's knowledge or consent, to have him tested to determine eligibility for entrance to the school. On September 14, 2017, the father filed his Amended Motion to Authorize Children's Enrollment at Westminster Christian School at Father's Sole Cost (the "Motion to Authorize Enrollment"). The father alleged that the mother refused to engage in discussions regarding the children's potential enrollment at Westminster. The father argued that Westminster was an excellent fit and well-suited to the talents and activities of the children, that Westminster "outpaces" Palmetto Middle School, and that he agreed to be solely responsible for the cost of attending Westminster. On October 11, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on the mother's Motion for Contempt and the Father's Motion to Authorize Enrollment. Both the mother and father testified at the hearing.

         On October 18, 2017, the trial court entered its "Order on Father's Amended Motion to Authorize Children's Enrollment at Westminster Christian School Etc." (the "Order"). In its Order, the trial court granted the father's Motion to Authorize Enrollment, finding that it would be in each child's best interest to enroll at Westminster. The Order authorized the father to file applications for admission to Westminster for the 2018-2019 academic year and to enroll the children if the applications were accepted. The Order further authorized the father to apply for early admission with the understanding that the applications must be submitted before November 1, 2017, and provided that the father shall be solely responsible for the costs charged by Westminster should the children be accepted. The Order also stated that the mother "shall cooperate with and fully support the children's applications to Westminster Christian School and their subsequent enrollment, if accepted." Finally, the Order denied the mother's Motion for Contempt.

         The wife's appeal from the Order ensued. The father represented in a May 7, 2018, filing with this Court that the children have been accepted to Westminster for the 2018-2019 academic year and that the first day of school is in August 2018.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A trial court's determination regarding the best interests of a child is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See Young v. Hector, 740 So.2d 1153, 1158-59 (Fla. 3d DCA 1999) (en banc). A trial court's denial of a motion for contempt is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See Dufour v. Damiani, 231 So.3d 486, 488 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017); see also Milton v. Milton, 113 So.3d 1040, 1040 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) ("There is nothing that requires a trial court to hold a ...


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