Family Divorce Case Decided In Appellate Court Ten Years After

David Duncan v. Thalia Tatham Brickman, 2017 WL 4798919, (Fla. 2d DCA Oct. 25, 2017)

In Brickman, the Second District agreed with a father that a trial court cannot modify timesharing as a sanction for a parent’s contempt of a custody order.

The proceedings first began in 2006, following a divorce. While the husband and wife resolved the financial matters from the marriage, the parents could not agree on raising their son leading to further litigation. In 2008, the trial court awarded the father the majority of timesharing with his son. Following years of litigation without rulings being entered by the trial court, the trial court found the father in contempt and imposed equal timesharing, as a sanction.

The Appellate Court first determined it was improper as a matter of law to adversely modify timesharing as punishment for violating a court order. Secondly, the trial court failed in its duty to timely entering orders. Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215(f) states that every judge has a duty to rule upon or announce an order of judgment within a reasonable time.  In this case, the trial court failed in its duty when it took years to decide many of the issues at hand.