Friday, May 25, 2012

Fifth District Examines Standard of Review

The Fifth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion today in Schwieterman v. Schwieterman, first spending time to address the appropriate standard of review as to the lower tribunal’s adoption of a parenting plan.  The Former Wife contended that, as the lower court mistakenly believed there was a presumption in favor of equal timesharing, the ruling constituted an error in the application of law, requiring a de novo review.  The Former Husband, on the other hand, argued that abuse of discretion was the more appropriate standard.  The District Court found no evidence that the lower court had applied a presumption in favor of equal timesharing when it granted that relief, and as such found that a de novo review would be inappropriate.  In reviewing the judgment only under the abuse of discretion standard, the Fifth District affirmed the timesharing provisions.  However, as to provisions in the parenting plan which essentially appointed the Former Husband’s parents as decision-makers in the event of an emergency or deadlock, the Fifth District agreed with the Former Wife that these provisions interfered with her parental rights, and that in the event of a deadlock the dispute must be presented to the trial court.  The Fifth District also found error in a requirement that the Former Wife provide notification of medical appointments not to the parents of the Former Husband.  The Court reversed as to these issues alone.

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