Modifications of a Divorce Decree
Modifications are post-judgment actions after a final divorce decree. A party may petition the court for a modification for various reasons. The financial status of either parent may have changed, there may be a shift in a work schedule or a relocation of either parent, a remarriage may have occurred, or one parent may be accused of being negligent or abusive. The sections of a divorce decree that may be modified include alimony, child support, timesharing, and custody.
Modification of Alimony
Alimony is the monetary support one spouse pays the other spouse after a divorce. The Florida courts may modify alimony when there has been a substantial change of circumstances for one or both spouses. These circumstances may include a job loss, death, illness or injury, remarriage of either spouse or retirement. The cohabitation of the receiving spouse is also considered a substantial change of circumstance. When a spouse receiving alimony begins a live-in relationship with someone who contributes to her financial support, then Florida courts consider the additional income as grounds for a possible reduction of alimony.
The process to modify alimony begins by filing a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony with the Circuit Family Law Court in the county where the original divorce was filed. The Supplemental Petition needs to include an explanation of the substantial change of circumstances that has initiated the request.
After filing a petition, it is served to the other spouse. The other spouse has 20 days to respond, and mediation is ordered. If an agreement is not reached between the ex-spouses, the issue will go to trial. At trial, the petitioning spouse must prove they are entitled to the modification requested in the Supplemental Petition.
Modification of Child Support
Any time a substantial change in circumstance occurs, a parent may file for a modification of child support. The most common reason is a change of income for either parent. Child support is modifiable under Florida law if the support change would be at least $50 or 15%, whichever is greater. A substantial change in parenting time may also warrant a child support modification. Recently a new child support law strengthened the case to modify child support based on parenting patterns. Child-related expenses may justify changes in child support as well. Some of the more common changes in expenses may be daycare costs related to the parent’s employment needs. Another reason for a change in circumstance is an increase in the cost of healthcare insurance for the child.
Modification of Child Custody/Parenting Plans
When filing a petition to modify a child custody/parenting plan, the court will only approve a change if it is in the child’s best interest. If the parents agree on a new parenting plan, they can submit it to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree, the petitioner must file a proposed parenting plan, and a copy is served to the other parent. The court will set a date for a hearing, at which time a judge will hear both sides and determine what is in the child’s best interest.
Reasons for a change in a parenting plan/custody may include:
- A parent not following the current plan
- The unfitness of a parent
- One parent relocating
- A criminal conviction of one parent
- Changes in the child’s needs
- A job change of a parent affecting the timesharing with the child
- The child living in a potentially harmful situation
Contact a Knowledgeable Family Law Modifications Lawyer in Winter Garden, Florida.
Modifications are a common occurrence after a divorce. A person’s life can change quickly and necessitate adjustments to your divorce decree. You do not need to deal with the challenges of modifying your divorce decree alone.
If you wish to obtain a modification to your existing divorce judgment, retain the help of an experienced Orlando and Central Florida modifications attorney. We provide answers and options to clear the path for a better future. At C.J. Hilliard Law, P.A., we tailor solutions for each client according to their needs. We represent clients throughout Orlando and Central Florida. Call to schedule an appointment at (407) 656-1576.