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Florida Supreme Court Rules “Concrete Steps” Not Required to Restore Parent Timesharing Rights

May 03, 2021

By: Crystal Espinosa Buit

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court in C.N. v. I.G.C. (Case No. SC20-505), ruled on the issue of whether a court is required to give a parent “concrete steps” to restore lost timesharing and return to the pre-modification status quo. In an important decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that there is no such requirement.

Generally, in Florida, a previously ordered parenting plan may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances, and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child.

In this case, the mother had accused the father of physically harming the child. The father filed a petition to modify their original parenting plan, under which the father had 43% of the overnights and the mother had 57%. After a two-day trial, the trial court concluded that the child-abuse allegations by the mother were false and modified the parties’ parenting plan so that the father was given two-thirds of the overnights and the mother one-third.

The mother appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal – which covers cases in Orlando and the Central Florida area – and argued that the court was required to provide concrete steps to allow her to restore her lost timesharing rights. The Fifth District Court of Appeal and ultimately the Florida Supreme Court disagreed with her.

As the Florida Supreme Court held:

Depending on the circumstances, it might not be reasonable for a court to attempt to devise conditions that would lead to a restoration of the premodification status quo. Yet the rule advocated by the mother would require the court to specify a pathway to restoration in every case. In light of these aspects of chapter 61, a court does not err simply for finally modifying a preexisting parenting plan without giving a parent concrete steps to restore any lost time-sharing.

This ruling by the Florida Supreme Court resolves a conflict between district courts of appeal.  

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Crystal Espinosa Buit devotes her practice to providing skilled and supportive legal representation for clients going through complicated and often highly emotional family law matters, including divorce, child support, child custody, alimony and family law litigation. She also has significant experience negotiating and drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for couples seeking financial protection and peace of mind. Her clients include high-net-worth individuals, business executives, doctors, lawyers, professional athletes and other prominent professionals, as well as the spouses of such individuals.

A strong and compassionate advocate, Crystal knows every family is unique and no two cases are the same. She works tirelessly to find creative solutions that minimize conflict and suit each client’s best interests and individual needs. A wife and mother of two, Crystal also understands the difficult decisions her clients face, and she works closely with them to keep them informed and supported as they navigate uncharted territory and make important choices for themselves and their children.

With her training and experience in collaborative family law, Crystal believes that most couples and families can benefit from avoiding lengthy courtroom battles by resolving conflicts regarding issues like shared parenting time, child and spousal support, and property division through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law. When litigation cannot be avoided, she and the firm’s other family law attorneys will zealously represent you and your interests in the courtroom.

An Orlando native, Crystal is an ardent supporter of her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Central Florida. She currently serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors and was honored with the UCF Jefferson Award for Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her generosity and service to the university. Previously recognized by Florida Super Lawyers as a “Florida Rising Star,” Crystal graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While in law school, she was a member of the Florida Law Review and earned five Books Awards, including Interviewing & Counseling; Negotiation; and Family and Public Policy.
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