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Florida judge's family law ruling questioned, on appeal

The subject matter underlying family law disputes that go before a Florida judge for a ruling in a formal hearing can run a wide gamut of possibilities. In a divorce matter, outstanding issues can revolve around child custody and visitation, child or spousal support, property division or a host of other considerations.

Whatever the case, though, a judge’s ruling will relate to a matter that is at issue between the parties coming before the court.

In most instances, that is.

We report today on a very interesting case in which a family law hearing judge simply weighed in on a matter that was not raised by either parent before him. The judge summarily issued an order on the spot that has materially modified family circumstances and resulted in an appeal requesting a reversal of his ruling.

In a routine custody hearing in which the education of a couple’s children was not an issue, a guardian ad litem instantly made it one with her surprising pronouncement that she had a “gut feeling” about the children’s home schooling program. She questioned whether learning at home was optimal for promoting the kids’ socialization skills.

The judge heartily weighed in, reportedly lecturing the mother and ultimately issuing a ruling ordering that the children be enrolled in public classes. They are presently in public school and apparently unhappy with the change.

The case is now on appeal. One strong critic of the ruling is the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the matter.

Home schooling is legal in Florida and throughout much of the country as an alternative to public schools, provided that a program meets certain requirements set forth by public officials.

Source: WND.com, "Family banned from homeschooling after divorce," Bob Unruh, Dec. 2, 2013

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