Monday, March 12, 2007

“The Judge Did What?!!?”

In Stallworth v. Phinney, 32 Fla. L. Weekly D450 [Fla. 1st DCA 2007] the trial court modified the parties’ final judgment of dissolution to order, pursuant to the parties’ agreement, that the parties’ daughter would complete her elementary education at a particular school [no problems yet]. The Appellee former husband thereafter unilaterally elected to place the daughter in a different school [uh oh!]. As you might expect, the Appellant former wife then filed an emergency motion for contempt and requested that the motion be considered at an expedited evidentiary hearing.

The trial court declined to hold the requested hearing and entered an order denying the Appellant’s motion [now there’s a problem]. The judge, after denying the former wife’s motion, directed the parties to mediate the issue, and granted the Appellee the final authority to choose a school if mediation was unsuccessful [the problem is getting bigger!].

The First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial judge and remanded the case to the trial court with directions that an evidentiary hearing be promptly held. The appellate court determined that:

In refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the former wife due process.

How about that!

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