Mary E. Foreman, Petitioner,
Thomas James, Respondent.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Petition for Writ of Certiorari from the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County Lower Tribunal No. 09-10502, Scott M.
A. Hass, P.A., and Nancy A. Hass (Fort Lauderdale), for
James, in proper person.
SCALES, LINDSEY and LOBREE, JJ.
Mary E. Foreman, the Mother, seeks certiorari review to quash
an August 14, 2019 Order on Case Management Conference in
which the trial court required her and Thomas James, the
Father, to participate in a Family Bridges Workshop to
address the alienation of the parties' daughter toward
the Father. We deny the petition for writ of certiorari for
the reasons set forth in this opinion.
child was born in 2005. The parties were not married when she
was born and have not lived together as a family, the Mother
having obtained the sole decision-making and primary
parenting duties in a 2010 Paternity Settlement Agreement.
recent years, the Father has sought to achieve a closer
relationship with his daughter. In 2018, he filed with the
trial court a petition to modify the 2010 Paternity
Settlement Agreement and to obtain, among other things,
shared parental responsibility. On December 27, 2018, the
trial court ordered the appointment of a reunification
case management conference, held on July 2, 2019, the
reunification therapist advised the trial court that she had
observed "alienating behaviors." Although the
reunification therapist was uncertain whether the Mother was
acting in an intentional or unintentional manner, she did
state that the Mother appeared to be alienating her daughter
from the Father. The trial court, while not making a finding
of whether alienation was intentional or unintentional, found
that the child was being alienated from the father. In the
course of a discussion at the July 2, 2019 hearing about the
need for an expert psychological evaluation, the
reunification therapist advised the trial court of a program
called Family Bridges. The trial court expressed the view
that such an advanced reunification program should be ordered
soon if the then current course of reunification - consisting
primarily of conferences with the court-appointed
reunification therapist - proved unsuccessful and signs of
alienation continued. Counsel for both the Mother and the
Father agreed to explore the efficacy of Family Bridges or a
similar therapeutic reunification program, and the trial
court, after expressing both the urgency of, and harm
associated with, the alienation problem, ordered counsel to
explore appropriate "next step" options. A
follow-up case management conference was scheduled and
noticed for August 13, 2019.
August 13, 2019 case management conference, the reunification
therapist advised the trial court that reunification between
the Father and daughter was proceeding slowly; and the Mother
was not supportive of the reunification efforts and,
therefore, purposely or not, was undermining it. As a result,
the reunification therapist recommended the Family Bridges
Workshop. She explained to the trial court that Family
Bridges was not a local program, that the Father and daughter
would travel to a location where a "facilitator"
was available, and that the Workshop lasted four days,
followed by a ninety-day period in which the Mother would not
be allowed any contact with her daughter.
Mother was given an opportunity to address the trial court
and advised the court regarding the Mother's efforts to
assist in the reunification process. Specifically, the Mother
told the trial court about conversations she has with the
child regarding the Father. Additionally, the Mother's
counsel reported to the trial court that he had, as ordered,
investigated and explored the Family Bridges
trial judge, however, expressed his exasperation with the
reunification efforts and announced his intention to order
the parties to participate in the Family Bridges program,
with the Mother initially to pay for the program, subject to
taxation of costs at the end of the case. The trial judge
expressed how the ...