Bresky Law Obtains PCA Affirming Trial Court’s Orders in Child Time-sharing Contempt Proceeding

Case No. 4D15-2264 (Fla. 4th DCA, Oct. 20, 2016)*

Bresky Law recently represented a father as the appellee opposing an appeal by the mother/former wife regarding a contempt proceeding involving child time-sharing. In the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the mother challenged an order denying her exceptions to the magistrate’s report on the father’s motion for contempt. The mother also sought to overturn the final order that held the mother in contempt for violating the time-sharing provisions of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.

On appeal, the mother argued that the trial court had erred as a matter of law. She asserted that the appellate court should review the orders de novo without deference to the court’s conclusions. On behalf of the father, we rebutted the mother’s assertions as to the standard of review. We cited legal precedent showing that the court’s rulings should only be reviewed for an abuse of discretion and that the court’s actions were reasonable and should be given deference.

As for the substantive issues, we rebutted the mother’s claim that it was not clear what she had done to deserve the contempt ruling. We pointed out specific details in the transcript and record documents demonstrating precisely how certain actions had violated the time-sharing provisions of the final judgment.

We argued that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the mother’s exceptions or in approving the magistrate’s recommendations, as the court had fully reviewed the record and evidence from the general magistrate’s evidentiary hearing before deciding to deny the mother’s exceptions and to adopt the magistrate’s report and recommendations that were consistent with the evidence.

We also asserted that the court did not abuse its discretion in adopting the magistrate’s finding that the mother violated the court’s orders by depriving the father of time-sharing and telephone communications with the child, as these findings were supported by the evidence.

Additionally, we contended that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in requiring the mother to purge her contempt by ceasing to withhold the child and immediately comply with the time-sharing provisions in the judgment of which the mother was in contempt. We cited judicial precedent requiring courts to allow civil contemnors the opportunity to purge their contempt in that manner.

On October 20, 2016, the Fourth DCA issued a per curiam affirmance (“PCA”) upholding the trial court’s orders. The Fourth DCA also conditionally granted the father an award of his appellate attorney’s fees. This result achieves justice for the father and promotes the best interests of the child, enabling the child to have a close relationship with both parents as envisioned in the time-sharing schedule within the final judgment.

*The decision is not final until disposition of any timely-filed motion for rehearing.