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Reno v. Reno

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

October 3, 2019

Nataliya Reno, Petitioner,
Richard Reno, Respondent.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          Petition for Writ of Certiorari-Original Jurisdiction.

          R. Hadley Sanders, Hadley Sanders, P.A., Pensacola, for Petitioner.

          No appearance for Respondent.

          Jay, J.

         The Former Wife has filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the trial court's Order on Former Husband's Motion for Mental Health Evaluation of Former Wife, entered pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.360(1). Relief by way of a petition for writ of certiorari requires a demonstration of material injury not remediable on appeal-the jurisdictional threshold-and a departure from the essential requirements of the law. Oldham v. Greene, 263 So.3d 807, 811 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (citing State, Dep't of Revenue v. Hartsell, 189 So.3d 363, 364-65 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016)). "Ordering a compulsory medical examination meets the jurisdictional threshold." Id. (citing J.B. v. M.M., 92 So.3d 888, 889 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012)). Accordingly, the question of our jurisdiction having been settled, the issue we must address is whether the trial court's order departed from the essential requirements of the law.


         In a bifurcated proceeding, the parties were granted a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage on September 16, 2016. Subsequently, on March 27, 2017, the trial court heard the remaining issues set forth in the Former Husband's Petition and the Former Wife's Counter-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, as well as the Former Husband's Amended Motion for Contempt. Two children were born of the marriage. Sadly, following the entry of the Final Judgment on the pending petitions, the parties' youngest child-four-year-old A.-found himself directly in the middle of the emotional turmoil of his parents' hostile divorce. To say that the post-dissolution atmosphere was contentious is an understatement.

         Both parents have impressive credentials. The Former Husband is a pediatrician. The Former Wife is a board-certified family nurse practitioner, as well as a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner treating wounded and disabled veterans at a Veteran's Administration clinic. In the Final Judgment ultimately rendered on January 18, 2018, the trial court found that both parents "have the best interest of their children at heart" and "enjoy a close parent/child relationship." It also found, however, that the Former Wife had engaged in "way over the top negative behavior which places her desires over that of the children." Furthermore, the court found that "[t]he children have experienced greater stability and positivity with the Father, with the Father providing more consistent behavior towards the children." Considering the mental and physical health of the parents, the trial court found that both were in good health, but went on to note that due to the number of false reports it had received, the Department of Children and Families requested that the Former Wife undergo a mental health evaluation-which she refused to do.

         Not surprisingly, the trial court found that communication between the parents concerning the children "fell short," with the Former Wife providing "minimal information" regarding the children's health needs. Also, the court found that there had been numerous-unfounded-reports of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect leveled by the Former Wife against the Former Husband. The Sheriff's Office and the Department of Children and Families were often dragged into the fray when called upon by the Former Wife to conduct welfare checks on the children and physical examinations of A., after the children had been in the Former Husband's care-complaints that were invariably found to be without substance.

         Yet, notwithstanding the trial court's negative rhetoric concerning the Former Wife, in the end, it found that it was in the children's best interests to adopt a shared, rotating parenting plan under which each parent would have the children every other week, from Monday to Monday. The Former Husband, though, was granted sole parental responsibility "for making ultimate major decisions as to the children's medical/health needs; and academic/educational needs of the children." In addition, the court concluded "it would be beneficial for both parties to engage in counseling to address the stress and anger that has arisen over the course of co-parenting." (Emphasis added.) Accordingly, it ordered that both parents "seek one on one counseling for stress-related and anger issues."

         We recently affirmed the trial court's Final Judgment, without opinion, in Reno v. Reno, 274 So.3d 1061 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019) (table).

         Meanwhile, on November 11, 2018, the Former Husband filed his Emergency Motion for Mental Examination and Supervised Timesharing pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360 and rule 12.360. In his motion, the Former Husband alleged that the Former Wife's "psychological disorder and mental problems" "substantially impact[] her ability to parent" and "prevent[] her from being able to properly care for" the minor children. He went on to claim the Former Wife's "mental health is in controversy," and "good cause" had been shown based on the joint behavior of the Former Wife and her mother in "engaging in a pattern of seeking unnecessary medical treatment for the minor children based on false allegations of physical and sexual abuse of the minor children," which reports "continue to be deemed unfounded." The Former Husband further contended:

The minor children are being subjected to painful and embarrassing prodding and scrutiny of their most private areas in a medical and law enforcement setting which is causing a harmful, negative, and detrimental effect on the children, and is completely the result of the Former Wife's continued erroneous beliefs of abuse, despite all evidence to the contrary by professional investigators. The Former Wife and her mother . . . previously contained their allegations of such abuse with the Former Husband as their ...

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