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Name: In re Elizabeth M.
Case #: G038729
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/16/2008

Trial court erred when it reduced visitation without evidence or adequate notice to father. Father appealed an exit order significantly reducing his visitation, which was based on a stipulation signed by counsel. The stipulation was a hand-written statement of the existing visitation schedule, interlineated in different handwriting to reflect a reduction in visitation. The interlineations were not initialed by counsel, and it was unclear from the record when and under what circumstances they were made. Further, there was no request for the reduction in visitation before the court at the time of the hearing, and no evidence showing that such a request had been made. The court adopted the altered stipulation. The appellate court reversed and remanded with directions to reinstate the original visitation order. The court’s order reducing the visitation was both made without notice and unsupported by any evidence. The altered language in the stipulation was not signed off by any counsel. Either the visitation was altered after counsel signed off on the stipulation or counsel stipulated away his client’s visitation rights for no apparent reason. The court erred when it adopted the stipulation without adequate inquiry or evidence.