It’s been reported pretty widely in the press recently that the Court in the Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller custody dispute, did not grant Mr. Sheen’s request to change custody of the couple’s children (Chicago Sun-Times report).
A point to remember for Florida parents involved in time-sharing cases, is that parents in Florida cases can request the court to change or enter a temporary time-sharing and parental responsibility order while their divorce case is pending.
The request can be made as part of a divorce petition or by a motion filed after the petition. The Judge can enter a temporary order specifying what time-sharing will be, can order a parent to undergo a mental health or substance abuse evaluation if there is concern about the well-being of a child while he or she is with one of the parents – the court has a lot of power and discretion when it comes to entering orders to protect children. Temporary time-sharing and parental responsibility can also be determined in a domestic violence injunction hearing.
An issue often for motions regarding children’s issues, and other motions, is the timing of scheduling a hearing, and when a hearing date is available. In Broward County, Florida and other circuits, if there is “a matter of imminent or impending abuse, neglect or abandonment” of a child (this is the definition in Broward County of a “child emergency“), you can file an emergency motion and appear in front of the Judge on an “ex parte” basis”, possibly the same day you file your motion. The English translation for “ex parte” is “for (by or from) one party”, and it means you go in front of the Judge without the other side being present at the hearing. When there is domestic violence, a temporary time-sharing order can also be entered as part of a temporary restraining order.
Motions that don’t qualify as emergency motions, are scheduled like other motions through the Judge’s Judicial Assistant, or sometimes on-line. Depending on how busy the Judge’s court calendar is, there can be a wait. If you have a situation involving your children that affects their welfare, but doesn’t qualify as an emergency, it can be important to try to contact the Judge’s Judicial Assistant – sometimes other hearings are cancelled and an earlier hearing time may open up and become available for you.