Voluntary Relinquishment of Custody In Florida

Although it has been argued that under Florida law a voluntary relinquishment of custody may never constitute a substantial change of circumstances, a review of the case law demonstrates that this statement is misleading and overly broad. In Henderson v. Henderson, 537 So. 2d 125 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988), where a temporary change in custody resulted in a longer separation from the mother than had been anticipated caused by the husband's failure to honor the parties' agreement, this court determined that allowing "appellee to benefit from a change he induced by promising to keep the twins only temporarily would be inequitable." Id. at 127. In Evans v. Evans, 490 So. 2d 1035 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986), where the only allegation of a change of circumstances had been a temporary change of custody which had been lengthened by the husband's failure to honor the custody agreement, we determined that modification of the custody agreement was inappropriate. See id. at 1036. In Smoak v. Smoak, 658 So. 2d 568 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995), where the only factor mentioned in the opinion to support a modification of custody was that the father had been allowed extended visitation with the child, we determined that modification was inappropriate. See id. at 569. In Zediker v. Zediker, 444 So. 2d 1034 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984), where the Court reversed a trial court's order modifying custody, there had been no allegation that the child had been living with the noncustodial parent for a substantial period of time.