In any type of binding agreement, it is very important be sure that you understand all of the terms of the agreement and that you are sure that you’re willing to follow those terms. That includes family law-related matters like custody agreements. Ensuring that you understand and truly agree with your arrangement is so important because there are only a very few scenarios in which you can get out of the agreement if you change your mind after you sign. Generally, you have to prove that there was fraud or certain other misconduct; otherwise, you’re required to honor the deal you signed. This also demonstrates the importance of having a South Florida family law attorney on your side for reliable advice and representation.
A dispute from the panhandle was an example of this. M.G. V. filed for divorce after eight years of marriage. She and her husband, T.V., had one daughter together. Initially, the trial court entered a temporary order that put into force the couple’s stipulated temporary timesharing agreement. That set up a 50-50 split in timesharing with the daughter. Several months later, the two parents (each of whom had his/her own attorney) worked out an agreement on timesharing. The agreement called for the mother to have timesharing with the daughter during summer break, every other Thanksgiving break, half of each Christmas break and every “three-day” or “four-day” weekend during the school year.
The wife’s attorney asked her if she understood what the terms of the agreement were. The mother said yes. The mother’s attorney asked if she was in agreement with those terms. She said yes.
However, the mother later had second thoughts and filed a motion (without legal representation) with the court asking the judge to throw out the timesharing agreement. She asserted that she’d felt pressured and confused when she assented to the terms of the timesharing agreement. In her court hearing, she presented evidence of disagreements she’d had with her attorney, and statements that her attorney had made to her identifying potential weaknesses in the mother’s custody case. These things, according to the mother, made her feel scared and coerced into agreeing.
The father was, however, able to defeat the mother’s efforts to escape from the timesharing agreement, both in the trial court and the court of appeal. When you and your legal counsel have worked diligently to achieve an agreement that you believe is in the best interest of your child and your family, you obviously want to take every step available to protect and enforce that agreement. This can include defeating efforts of your ex-spouse to get out of the agreement. In seeking to do that, it is important to know that Florida law generally will respect the agreements that two spouses or two parents reach in their family law cases. Courts will typically look to uphold an agreement – such as the timesharing agreement in this case – as long as it wasn’t patently unfair and wasn’t “tainted by fraud, overreaching or concealment” and was not contrary to the best interest of the child.
This mother was given an opportunity to make her case before the court, and failed to prove that the agreement was contrary to the daughter’s best interests, the product of fraud or otherwise unenforceable. Based on that lack of proof, the father was entitled to a court order that enforced the agreement as written.
Whether your family law issue is timesharing, child support or something unrelated to children, Miami family law attorney Sara Saba is ready to help. Attorney Saba has been giving her clients reliable representation for more than 13 years. Our team is dedicated solely to meeting your family law needs. Contact us online or by calling (305) 450-8009 to schedule your consultation. Hablamos Español.
More blog posts:
What Happens When You and Your Child’s Other Florida-Based Parent are Hopelessly Deadlocked in Making an Important Child Welfare Decision?, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 6, 2018
How to Go About Resuming Unrestricted Timesharing with Your Child Following a Florida Court Order of Supervised Visitation, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2018